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  • House passes bill that would effectively overturn Madden; others amend RESPA disclosure requirements and adjust points and fees definitions under TILA

    Federal Issues

    On February 14, in a bipartisan vote of 245-171, the House passed H.R. 3299, the “Protecting Consumers Access to Credit Act of 2017,” to codify the “valid-when-made” doctrine and ensure that a bank loan that was valid as to its maximum rate of interest in accordance with federal law at the time the loan was made shall remain valid with respect to that rate, regardless of whether the bank subsequently sells or assigns the loan to a third party. As previously covered in InfoBytes, this regulatory reform bill would effectively overturn the 2015 decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, which ruled that debt buyers cannot use their relationship with a national bank to preempt state usury limits. Relatedly, the Senate Banking Committee is considering a separate measure, S. 1642.

    The same day, in a separate bipartisan vote of 271-145, the House approved H.R. 3978, the “TRID Improvement Act of 2017,” which would amend the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA) to modify disclosure requirements applicable to mortgage loan transactions. Specifically, the bill states that “disclosed charges for any title insurance premium shall be equal to the amount charged for each individual title insurance policy, subject to any discounts as required by either state regulation or the title company rate filings.”

    Finally, last week on February 8, the House voted 280-131 to pass H.R. 1153, the “Mortgage Choice Act of 2017,” to adjust definitions of points and fees in connection with mortgage transactions under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Specifically, the bill states that “neither escrow charges for insurance nor affiliated title charges shall be considered ‘points and fees’ for purposes of determining whether a mortgage is a ‘high-cost mortgage.’” On February 12, the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation U.S. House Usury Lending RESPA TILA Mortgages Disclosures

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  • CFPB Succession: CFPB releases five-year strategic plan; Trump’s budget proposal suggests cuts

    Federal Issues

    On February 12, the CFPB released its five-year strategic plan, which establishes the agency’s long-term strategic goals with corresponding objectives and achievement strategies. The strategic plan also introduces a new stated mission for the CFPB, which is based on Sections 1011(a) and 1013(d) of the Dodd-Frank Act:

    “To regulate the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the Federal consumer financial laws and to educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions.”

    The new mission focuses on regulation and education but is silent on enforcement, as compared to the Bureau’s previous mission:

    “The CFPB helps consumer financial markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.”

    In addition to the mission, with the exception of the achievement strategies, the plan’s goals and corresponding objectives are all also restatements of various sections of title X of the Dodd-Frank Act. According to the plan, the Bureau will act with “humility and moderation” in achieving the three stated goals, which are:

    • “Ensure that all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services.”
    • “Implement and enforce the law consistently to ensure that markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive.”
    • “Foster operational excellence through efficient and effective processes, governance and security of resources and information.”

    Notable, are the strategies the Bureau has outlined to achieve its goals and objectives. Among others, these strategies include, (i) reviewing individual regulations for clarification opportunities and considering alternative approaches to regulation; (ii) enhancing institutional regulatory compliance to protect consumers from discrimination and UDAAP violations; (iii) focusing enforcement resources on institutions and product lines that pose the greatest risk to consumers; (iv) promoting the development of compliance technology solutions. The strategic plan also focuses on internal strategies to achieve the Bureau’s mission, such as, maintaining a responsive cybersecurity program and promoting budget discipline.

    The final strategic plan is a significant rewrite of the draft strategic plan published in October 2017 under the Bureau’s previous leadership (covered by InfoBytes here). The final plan represents a “more coherent strategic direction” compared to the draft version, according to a letter written by acting Director Mick Mulvaney, which accompanies the final plan.

    On the same day as the strategic plan was released, President Trump issued his 2019 budget proposal which outlines a plan to place the CFPB under the congressional appropriations process, cut the Bureau’s budget by more than $6 billion over 10 years, and restrict the Bureau’s enforcement authority of federal consumer financial laws. More InfoBytes details about the budget proposal are available here.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Bank Supervision Enforcement Consumer Education CFPB

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  • President Trump releases 2019 budget proposal; key areas of reform include appropriation shifts, cybersecurity, and financial crimes

    Federal Issues

    On February 12, the White House released its fiscal 2019 budget request, Efficient, Effective, Accountable, an American Budget (2019 budget proposal), along with Major Savings and Reforms (MSR) and an Appendix. The mission of the President’s budget sets forth priorities, including imposing fiscal responsibility, reducing wasteful spending, and prioritizing effective programs. However, the 2019 budget proposal has little chance of being enacted as written and does not take into account a two-year budget agreement Congress passed that the President signed into law on February 9. Notable takeaways of the 2019 budget are as follows:

    CFPB. Under the MSR’s “Restructure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” section, Congress and the current administration would implement a broad restructuring of the Bureau to “prevent actions that unduly burden the financial industry” by restricting its enforcement authority over federal consumer law. Among other things, the proposed budget would cap the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) transfers this year at $485 million (an amount equivalent to its 2015 budget) and eliminate all transfers by 2020, at which point the Bureau’s appropriations process would shift to Congress.

    Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). As stipulated in the Appendix, the budget proposes legislation, which would authorize the CFTC to collect $31.5 million in user fees to fund certain activities and would bring the Commission’s budget to $281.5 million for 2019. According to the administration, if the authorizing legislation is enacted, it would be “in line with nearly all other Federal financial and banking regulators.”

    Cybersecurity. The 2019 budget proposal requests funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to execute efforts to counter cybercrime. The DOD funds would go towards efforts to sustain the Cyber Command’s 133 Cyber Mission Force Teams, which “are on track to be fully operational by the end of 2018.” Furthermore, the administration states it “will improve its ability to identify and combat cybersecurity risks to agencies’ data, systems, and networks.”

    Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). Currently FSOC (which is comprised of the heads of the financial regulatory agencies and monitors risk to the U.S. financial system) and the Office of Financial Research (OFR) (FSOC’s independent research arm) receive funding through fees assessed on certain bank holding companies with assets of at least $50 billion as well as nonbanks supervised by the Fed. However, the 2019 budget proposal would require FSOC and OFR to receive their funding through the normal congressional appropriations process. 

    Flood Insurance. Outlined in the MSR is a budget request that would reduce appropriations for the National Flood Insurance Program's flood hazard mapping program by $78 million. The funding reduction is designed to “preserve resources for [DHS]’s core missions”; however, the administration plans to work to “improve efficiency in the flood mapping program, including incentivizing increased State and local government investments in updating flood maps to inform land use decisions and reduce risk.” Additionally, contained within the Appendix is a proposal for a “means-tested affordability program” that would determine assistance for flood insurance premium payments based on a policyholder's income or ability to repay, rather than a home's location or date of construction.

    Government Sponsored Enterprises. Noted within the MSR, the budget proposes doubling the guarantee fee charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to loan originators from 0.10 to 0.20 percentage points from 2019 through 2021. The proposal is designed to help “level the playing field for private lenders seeking to compete with the GSEs” and would “generate approximately $26 billion over the 10-year Budget window.” 

    HUD. The 2019 budget proposal eliminates funding for the following: (i) the CHOICE Neighborhoods program (a savings of $138 million),  on the basis that state and local governments should fund strategies for neighborhood revitalization; (ii) the Community Development Block Grant (a savings of $3 billion), over claims that it “has not demonstrated a measurable impact on communities”; (iii) the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (a savings of $950 million); and (iv) the Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program Account (a savings of $54 million). The budget also proposes reductions to grants provided to the Native American Housing Block Grant and plans to reduce costs across HUD’s rental assistance programs through legislative reforms. Rental assistance programs generally comprise about 80 percent of HUD’s total funding.

    SEC. As stipulated in the MSR, the budget proposes eliminating the SEC’s mandatory reserve fund and would require the SEC to request additional funds through the congressional appropriations process starting in 2020. According to the Appendix, the reserve fund is currently funded by collected registration fees and is not subject to appropriation or apportionment. Under the proposed budget, the registration fees would be deposited in the Treasury’s general fund.

    SIGTARP. As proposed under MSR, the 2019 budget would reduce funding for the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) “commensurate with the wind-down of TARP programs.” According to the proposal, “Congress aligned the sunset of SIGTARP with the length of time that TARP funds or commitments are outstanding,” which, Treasury estimates, will be in 2023. This will mark the final time payments are expected to be made under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). As previously covered in InfoBytes, SIGTARP delivered a report to Congress last month, which identified unlawful conduct by certain of the 130 financial institutions in TARP’s Making Home Affordable Program as the top threat to TARP and, thus, the agency’s top investigative priority.

    Student Loan Reform. Under the 2019 budget proposal, a single income-driven repayment plan (IDR) would be created that caps monthly payments at 12.5 percent of discretionary income. Furthermore, balances would be forgiven after a specific number of repayment years—15 for undergraduate debt, 30 for graduate. In doing so, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and subsidized loans will be eliminated, and reforms will be established to “guarantee that all borrowers in IDR pay an equitable share of their income.” These proposals will only apply to loans originated on or after July 1, 2019, with the exception of loans provided to borrowers in order to finish their “current course of study.”

    Treasury Department. Under the 2019 budget proposal, safeguarding markets and protecting financial data are a top priority for the administration, and $159 million has been requested for Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to “continue its critical work safeguarding the financial system from abuse and combatting other national security threats using non-kinetic economic tools. These additional resources would be used to economically isolate North Korea, complete the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center in Saudi Arabia, and increase sanctions pressure on Iran, including through the implementation of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.” The budget also requests a $3 million increase from 2017 to be applied to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s authority to administer the Bank Secrecy Act and its work to prevent the financing of terrorism, money laundering, and other financial crimes.  

    Federal Issues Budget Trump CFPB CFTC FSOC Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Flood Insurance HUD SEC Student Lending Department of Treasury

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  • CFPB releases RFI on supervision process

    Federal Issues

    On February 14, the CFPB released its fourth Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the Bureau’s operations. While prior RFIs have focused on various aspects of the Bureau’s enforcement process, this RFI solicits public comment on “how best to achieve meaningful burden reduction or other improvement to the processes used by the Bureau to supervise for compliance with Federal consumer financial law.” The RFI broadly requests feedback on all aspects of the supervision process but also highlights specific topics on which comment is requested, including (i) timing, frequency, and scope of examinations; (ii) timing and process of the pre-exam information request, including type and volume of information requested; (iii) effectiveness and accessibility of the CFPB exam manual; (iv) usefulness and content of the potential action and request for response (PARR) letter; (v) clarity and timing requirements associated with matters requiring attention (MRA), as well as the use of third parties to conduct assessments specified in MRAs; (vi) the Bureau’s provision of information about supervisory actions in its Supervisory Highlights publication; and (vii) how the Bureau should coordinate its supervisory activity with federal or state agencies with overlapping jurisdictions. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on February 20. Comments will be due 90 days from publication.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession RFI Bank Supervision

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  • Ginnie Mae tells companies to address VA refi churning

    Federal Issues

    On February 8, Ginnie Mae announced that it had sent notices to a small number of issuers in the Ginnie Mae multi-issuer mortgage-backed security (MBS) program warning them about their VA mortgage loan prepayment speeds, which deviated from the norm and put the veteran benefit at risk. According to Ginnie Mae, the notices require the issuers to create a “corrective action plan that identifies immediate strategies to bring prepayment speeds in line with market peers.” Issuers unable to correct their performance risk losing access to Ginnie Mae multi-issuer pools. The warnings are a result of a task force formed between Ginnie Mae and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to address refinance speeds and aggressive marketing in the VA loan space.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, Ginnie Mae also issued APM 17-06 which imposes tougher pooling standards on certain refinance loans. Additionally, the VA issued new policy guidance for its Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans (IRRRL) disclosures in an effort to assist borrowers in deciding whether the IRRRL is in their best interest, previously covered by InfoBytes here.

    Federal Issues Ginnie Mae Department of Veterans Affairs Mortgages Refinance

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  • CFPB Succession: Senators express concern over CFPB’s investigation into data breach; Otting praises Mulvaney; & more

    Federal Issues

    On February 7, a bipartisan group of 32 senators wrote to the CFPB expressing concerns over reports that the Bureau may have halted an investigation into a large credit reporting agency’s significant data breach. The letter requests specific information related to agency’s oversight over the issue, such as, (i) whether the CFPB has stopped an on-going investigation into the data breach and if so, why; (ii) whether the CFPB intends to conduct on-site exams of the credit reporting agency at issue; and (iii) if an investigation is on-going, details related to the steps taken in that investigation. Additionally, on February 6, during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), Representative David Scott, D-Ga., addressed rumors that the CFPB has scaled back its investigation of a large credit reporting agency’s significant data breach. In response to Scott, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin noted that, while he has not done so yet, he intends to discuss the matter with acting Director Mulvaney and at FSOC. According to reports, a spokesperson for the Bureau noted that Mulvaney takes data security issues “very seriously” but that the Bureau does not comment on open enforcement or supervisory matters. It has also been reported that the CFPB may be deferring to the FTC’s on-going investigation.

    Comptroller of the Currency, Joseph Otting, issued a statement on February 6 after meeting with Mulvaney about ways the CFPB and the OCC can work together to pursue each agency’s mission. Otting praised Mulvaney’s leadership of the agency and noted that the recent announcements regarding HMDA compliance and the payday rule reconsideration have “helped to reduce the burden on the banking system.” (Previously covered by InfoBytes here and here).

    On the same day, the CFPB announced that Kirsten Sutton Mork was selected as the new chief of staff for the agency. Mork had been serving as staff director of the House Financial Services Committee under Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. Leandra English previously held the role of chief of staff, prior to her appointment as deputy director in late November. English’s litigation against the appointment of Mulvaney as acting director continues with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and oral arguments have been set for April 12.   

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Credit Rating Agencies Enforcement CFPB HMDA Payday Lending

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  • CFPB releases RFI on enforcement process

    Federal Issues

    On February 7, the CFPB released its third Request for Information (RFI) in a series seeking feedback on the bureau’s operations.  This RFI solicits public comment on “information to help assess the overall efficiency and effectiveness of [the bureau’s] processes related to the enforcement of federal consumer financial law.” The RFI broadly requests feedback on all aspects of the enforcement process but also highlights specific topics on which comment is requested, including (i) timing and frequency of communication from the Bureau during investigations, including information about the status of the investigation; (ii) length of investigations; (iii) the Notice and Opportunity to Respond and Advise (NORA) process, including whether invocation of the NORA should be mandatory and whether the bureau should afford subjects of potential enforcement actions the right to make an in-person presentation to bureau personnel prior to the bureau determining whether to initiate legal proceedings; (iv) civil money penalty (CMP) amounts, including whether the bureau should adopt a CMP matrix; (v) the standard provisions of consent orders; and (vi) how the bureau should coordinate its enforcement activity with federal or state agencies with overlapping jurisdictions. The RFI is expected to be published in the Federal Register on February 12. Comments will be due 60 days from publication.

    InfoBytes coverage of previous RFIs can be found here and here.  

    Federal Issues RFI CFPB CFPB Succession Enforcement

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  • Federal Reserve blocks national bank’s growth, cites internal governance and risk management oversight failures

    Federal Issues

    On February 2, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) cited compliance breakdowns and widespread consumer abuses as the primary factors behind its decision to issue an order to cease and desist against a national bank. In addition to blocking the bank from growing beyond $1.95 trillion in assets until the Fed approves internal governance and risk management reforms, the order also requires the bank to take actions in the areas of board effectiveness, risk management program improvement, third party reviews of plans and improvements, and reports on progress. The bank must, among other things, (i) create “separate and independent reporting lines” to the chief risk officer and the board, and (ii) enhance risk management oversight and functions, which includes creating “an effective risk identification and escalation framework.” The bank concurrently agreed to replace four current board members in 2018, with three replaced by April. Notably, the order does not require the bank to cease current activities such as accepting customer deposits or making consumer loans.

    The Fed also sent letters to the bank’s former lead independent director and former chair of the board of directors (see letters here and here) to address the “many pervasive and serious compliance and conduct failures” that occurred during their tenures. Citing ineffective oversight following awareness of alleged consumer abuses, the Fed stated that the former directors failed to initiate any serious inquiry or request that the board do so. Further, the Fed asserted that the former chair of the board continued to support the sales goals that were a major cause of the identified sales practice problems and failed to initiate a serious investigation or inquiry. A third letter sent to the current board of directors outlines steps the board must take to improve senior management reporting, maintain an effective risk management structure, and ensure compensation and other incentive programs are “consistent with sound risk management objectives and promote . . . compliance with laws and regulations.” (See here and here for previous InfoBytes coverage on the alleged improper sales practices.)

    In response, the bank issued a press release stating it will commit to the Fed’s requirements and will provide a compliance plan for oversight, compliance, and operational risk management to the Fed within 60 days. The plan will also outline measures already completed by the bank, and if approved by the Fed, the bank will engage independent third parties to review its adoption and implementation of the plan.

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Bank Regulatory CFPB OCC Consumer Finance Risk Management

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  • Federal Reserve, FDIC, OCC release stress testing scenarios

    Federal Issues

    On February 1, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) published stress testing scenarios to be used when conducting the 2018 Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) evaluations and stress test exercises for large bank holding companies and large U.S. operations of foreign firms. Instructions for participating banks also were released. According to the Fed, in an effort designed to “support the transition to stress testing,” foreign banks will only be required to participate in a “simplified global market shock” portion of the CCAR evaluation. As previously covered in InfoBytes, last December the Fed issued a request for comments on three proposals designed to increase stress testing transparency and resiliency of large, complex banks.  This included a proposal to publically release, for the first time, information concerning the models and methodologies used during supervisory stress tests, including those applied in the CCAR. According to the Fed’s press release, the qualitative and quantitative evaluations will be used to evaluate a bank’s ability to survive in times of economic stress and are broken into three scenarios with varying degrees of stress: baseline, adverse and severely adverse. The Fed reminded participating banks that capital plan and stress testing submissions are due by April 5.

    The same day, the OCC issued its own stress testing scenarios for required OCC-supervised institutions with more than $10 billion in assets, and on February 2, the OCC released a notice and request for comments (notice) on revised templates to be used for stress test exercises performed by covered institutions with total consolidated assets of $50 billion or more. According to the notice, revisions would reduce the number of data items in the Supplemental Schedule by approximately half, and include (i) the elimination of two reporting schedules—the Regulatory Capital Transitions Schedule and the Retail Repurchase Exposures Schedule; (ii) the addition of new criteria for institutions subject to the global market shock evaluation; and (iii) clarification on how “Credit Loss Portion” and “Non-Credit Loss Portion” are reported in the summary schedule worksheets. Furthermore, under the revisions, savings associations would be eligible to use the simplified reporting requirements already available to other large, non-complex holding companies. The notice was published in the Federal Register on February 2 and comments are due by March 5.

    Additionally, on February 6, the FDIC released economic scenarios developed in coordination with the Fed and the OCC for certain supervised financial institutions. According to the FDIC, the scenarios “include key variables that reflect economic activity, including unemployment, exchange rates, prices, income, interest rates, and other salient aspects of the economy and financial markets.”

    Federal Issues Federal Reserve Stress Test CCAR Bank Holding Companies FDIC OCC

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  • FHFA extends deadline to March 30 for credit score input

    Federal Issues

    On February 2, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it is extending the deadline for input on how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) should update their current credit score requirements. Interested parties now have until March 30 to respond to the 22 questions outlined in the Request for Input (RFI) issued by FHFA on December 20, 2017. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the RFI sought input on four options for replacement of the Classic FICO credit score model currently used by the GSEs. The four options include (i) requiring the use of either the FICO 9 credit score model or the VantageScore 3.0 credit score model; (ii) requiring the use of both the FICO 9 and the VantageScore 3.0 credit score models; (iii) allowing lenders to choose between either the FICO 9 or the VantageScore 3.0 credit score models; or (iv) allowing lenders to deliver multiple scores through a waterfall approach that would establish a primary and a secondary score.

    Federal Issues Mortgages Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Credit Scores FHFA RFI

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