The US Chamber of Commerce and other trade groups filed a lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over the agency’s recent attempt to examine discrimination in financial services, a move that the groups argue needs congressional approval.
Several groups, which include American Bankers Association and Consumer Bankers Association and others, accused the CFPB of “operating beyond its statutory authority and without accountability.” Specifically, they take issue with a change to the CFPB’s Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices section to include discrimination as one of the kind of behaviors the agency oversees.
The Biden administration recently updated the Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices section of the CFPB’s examination manual to include discrimination – specifically whether financial products are offered equally to all customers of different backgrounds. The plaintiffs argue that is not in the CFPB’s power as dictated by Congress.
The groups say allegations of discrimination in finance are investigated from other government agencies. Putting CFPB in charge of that could “result in the disappearance of products consumers currently enjoy and benefit from,” they argue.
“The CFPB is pursuing an ideological agenda that goes well beyond what is authorized by law and the Chamber will not hesitate to hold them accountable,” said Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, in a statement.
In response, a CFPB spokesperson said it’s “one of the most transparent regulatory agencies, and voluntarily publishes exam manuals laying out how it will assess banks’ compliance with the federal laws Congress charged the bureau with enforcing.”
“The CFPB’s exam manuals allow banks to ensure they are following the law, and help make certain that consumers are receiving the fair and equitable treatment they deserve,” an agency spokesperson said.
Republicans and conservative-leaning groups have battled with the CFPB since its inception, frequently arguing that the agency is unnecessary and overstepping its mandate.
Critics say the CFPB, which has forced banks to return more than $12 billion to consumers for violations of the agency’s policies, is the epitome of government overreach and wields too much unchecked power. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other proponents argue it’s a key watchdog agency working for American consumers.