On February 12, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, introduced Senate Bill 453, also known as the CFPB Accountability Act of 2019. According to the text of the bill, it would amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to subject the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to the regular appropriations process.
A press release issued the same day that the newest bill was introduced, Sen. Perdue stated:
Dodd-Frank gave the CFPB unprecedented power with no Congressional oversight. Despite the new Director’s efforts to bring transparency to the Bureau, its structure is still completely unconstitutional. The American people deserve a closer look at the CFPB to understand how its actions will impact consumers.
The bill is co-sponsored by seventeen republican senators.
Sen. Perdue has introduced a similar bill in the past. In 2015, Sen. Perdue introduced S. 1383 (114th Congress). In 2016, Sen. Perdue sponsored S. 3318 (114th Congress). Both bills were likewise titled as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Accountability Act, the only difference in the titles was the year. The House of Representatives saw a similar bill in 2015 in H.R. 1261 (114th Congress), sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI).
The CFPB not being subject to Congress’ power of the purse is one of the two main arguments over the past year or so in court cases arguing that the structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional. Three main cases come to mind.
- The argument was first introduced in PHH Corp. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which founds its way through the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. At the en banc review phase, ultimate the D.C. Circuit found the structure of the CPFB is constitutional in January 2018.
- In September 2018, a petition for writ of certiorari – a request for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case – was filed in State National Bank of Big Spring v. Mnuchin. The Supreme Court denied that petition on January 14 of this year.
- A similar case, CFPB v. RD Legal Funding, has been brewing in New York. The district court found that the Bureau’s structure is unconstitutional. The CFPB appealed to the Second Circuit, where the case is still pending.
While the issue seems stalled in the court system, Sen. Perdue continues his efforts to challenge the CFPB’s structure – at least its appropriations – through the legislative branch. Of note, the prior two iterations of Sen. Perdue’s bill were introduced while Former Director Cordray still ran the Bureau. It seems that the change in Bureau leadership has done little to assuage Sen. Perdue’s efforts on the issue.