Trump and House Republicans Want to Fire the Head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Trump’s Justice Department and extremist Republicans are trying to sack the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a move that could ultimately threaten the integrity and independence of other federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration and the Federal Reserve.
The U.S. House would undo those protections in H.R. 10, or Financial Choice Act, that would let Trump fire Richard Cordray, director of the bureau. No president has ever successfully fired an appointee with “for cause” protections that Cordray has, which protect against firing for political reasons. Officials in those positions can only be fired for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Republicans loathe Cordray and the agency, which has forced predatory and abusive companies to return $11.7 billion to consumers they stiffed. The bill is sponsored by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).
The House vote would come after a hearing in May where appellate court judges referred to court cases that supported the independence of the directors of some government agencies from political interference. Previous presidents have tried and failed three times to remove officials with the same protections.
Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, is being targeted in a lawsuit brought by PHH Corp., a mortgage lender the bureau sanctioned for collecting $109 million in illegal kickbacks. PHH, which lost $67 million during the first quarter, is appealing that penalty. Trump’s lawyers at the Justice Department have sided with the company to argue that the bureau is too powerful.
Hashim Mooppan, an attorney for the Justice Department, argued in a hearing in May before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the bureau essentially has the same responsibilities as Cabinet agencies, and the president can fire Cabinet secretaries.
The heads of other federal agencies such as the Society Security Administration, the Federal Reserve and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have similar protections from being arbitrarily fired to protect them from political interference.
The Financial Choice Act also strips away much of the banking regulations passed after the Great Recession, is expected to stall in the Senate in its current form because it would need support from Democrats to get the 60 votes needed to pass.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said the bill is the “Wrong Choice Act.”
“The bill is rotten to the core,” she said.