Brown Opening Statement at Banking Committee Hearing on Nominations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Export-Import Bank

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – released the following opening statement at today’s hearing on nominations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

 

Sen. Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome to our nominees, their family, and friends.

The financial crisis started when greedy lenders lured families into scam loans they could not afford.  The whole enterprise was designed to transfer wealth upwards – stripping hard-earned home equity from the middle class and putting it in the pockets of shady lenders.

Behind all the numbers were thousands upon thousands of painful conversations around kitchen tables.

Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to prevent the need for those heartbreaking conversations ever again.

Like food inspectors, the CFPB hunts down scammers trying to sneak toxic products back onto our kitchen tables. The Consumer Bureau is not just a response to the last crisis – it is one of the most important tools we have to prevent the next one.

Though 2008 should have served as a wake-up call for watchdogs and CEOs, over the past six years, Consumer Bureau inspectors have still found plenty rotten in the banking industry.

From 2012 to 2017, the CFPB won 12 billion dollars in relief for 29 million Americans. That’s 12 billion reasons for Wall Street to hate the CFPB.

Lucky for them, they were able to install one of their own – Mick Mulvaney – to head the Bureau. He’s dropped investigations and reduced meaningful settlements to slaps on the wrist. Now he wants his protégé to run the agency.

For months, I urged the Administration to nominate someone to lead the CFPB who had a track record of working for consumers.  Unfortunately, Ms. Kraninger has no experience whatsoever in consumer protection.

Mr. Mulvaney argues she should be approved because of her management and budget experience.  It is hard to see how that is enough, especially given the nominee’s refusal to provide information requested by committee members.

Every one of us on this side of the dais wanted this hearing postponed until we got information about that experience. When the nominee and I met, she said it was out of her hands and would try to get a response.  That was over a week ago.  Still nothing.  What are they hiding?

If my Republican colleagues are concerned about transparency and accountability and responsiveness, they should note this nominee’s failure to reply to a simple request about her responsibilities in her current job– a request that we submitted four weeks ago.

Here is what we do know.  At the Office of Management and Budget, she signed off on a $1.9 trillion dollar tax break for millionaires.  To pay for it, she helped write a budget that would triple the rent for families that are already struggling to get by.

She has been involved in the management of one disastrous policy after another. The botched response to hurricanes in Puerto Rico has left American citizens to fend for themselves.  A housing policy that would increase homelessness. The administration’s cruelest policy yet – separating children from their families.

I hope we will know more by the end of the hearing.  These issues go to the heart of how she will handle any new job.

Management is supposed to be Ms. Kraninger’s one qualification. 

Nobody wants Mr. Mulvaney out of the CFPB faster than I do. But American consumers can’t afford five years of someone who stands with the bankers in this administration and on Wall Street. We need a CFPB Director who will sit with hardworking families at their kitchen tables.

I know my Republican colleagues are eager to move this nominee in spite of the Administration’s stonewalling.  I wish they showed a little of this kind of urgency when it comes to the jobs that have been put at risk by the failure to have a functional Export Import Bank.

Ms. Reed, has returned for her second appearance before the Banking Committee.  She is well qualified to lead Ex-Im, and our Committee voted overwhelmingly to support her nomination as First Vice President last December. 

There are 109 export credit agencies and credit programs around the world that support foreign manufacturers, but the U.S. has unilaterally disarmed.  When it comes to helping exporters, the policy some of our colleagues want to follow is “America Last.”  

It has been four years since the Senate confirmed an Ex-Im nominee, leaving Ex-Im partially shut down for three years.  American businesses have transactions worth more than $40 billion pending at the Bank.  Those deals and the resulting jobs may move overseas unless the Bank’s board is restored. 

If President Trump and Republicans are serious about helping American manufacturers after three years of obstruction, they should urge the Majority Leader to schedule consideration of Ms. Reed and the other Ex-Im board members immediately.

I look forward to hearing how Ms. Reed will restore the Bank.                   

       

 

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