Congressional Republicans Back Mulvaney in CFPB Leadership Court Battle

Mar 8, 2018 | News

A group of 113 Congressional Republicans submitted an amicus brief this week to the D.C. Circuit Court in support of President Trump’s authority to use the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) to appoint an interim director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The brief comes just days after the U.S. Department of Justice also threw its support behind the President and his temporary choice to lead the consumer agency, Mick Mulvaney.


In their brief, Congressional Republicans refer to the lawsuit as “false garb.” In his final act before leaving the position, former CFPB Director Richard Cordray promoted his chief of staff, Leandra English, to the job of deputy director and informed the agency that she would act as interim director until a permanent replacement could be confirmed by the Senate. Later that same day, President Trump used his authority under FVRA to install his budget director, former South Carolina representative Mick Mulvaney, as interim chief of the CFPB. The dueling appointments created considerable confusion at the agency, and English filed a lawsuit in federal district court in search of a judicial opinion supporting her leadership.


Instead, the federal district judge found that the Dodd-Frank Act and FVRA could be read harmoniously. Dodd-Frank allows the deputy director to ascend to the temporary leadership role, but that does not preclude the President from naming an interim director to supercede the Dodd-Frank authorization.


The Congressional Republicans argue in their brief that the provisions of Dodd-Frank only allow for the deputy director to manage agency operations when the director is “absent” or “unavailable.” This contrasts considerably from the language of FVRA, which covers temporary appointments when an agency head “dies” or “resigns.” At best, they wrote, “the Dodd-Frank provision would thus provide, at most, an alternative means for designating an Acting CFPB Director,” not an exclusive means for designation.


The Congressional Republican amicus brief is led, in part, by House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Jeb Hensarling (R- TX). Rep. Hensarling and Interim Director Mulvaney have a close and long-standing relationship dating back to Mulvaney’s time as a representative from South Carolina. Over the past few months, multiple former members of Hensarling’s staff have taken senior level positions at the CFPB to assist Mulvaney in day-to-day operations and policy formation.


Oral arguments in the case are scheduled to be heard by the D.C. Circuit on April 12th.

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