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  • CFPB succession update: CFPB requests zero funding; seeks public comment regarding Bureau’s activities; & more

    Federal Issues

    On January 17, in a letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney requested zero dollars for the Bureau’s quarterly operating funds. Each fiscal quarter, as required by law, the CFPB formally requests that the Federal Reserve transfer a specified amount of money to the Bureau so it can perform the functions outlined in its budget. In his letter, Mulvaney stated that the prior Director maintained a “reserve fund” for the CFPB, and the money in this fund is sufficient to cover the CFPB’s expenses for the second quarter. This will be the first time in the history of the CFPB that its Director has requested no additional amount to fund quarterly operations. The CFPB also announced its plan to publish a series of Requests for Information (RFIs) in the Federal Register seeking public input on the way the Bureau is performing its statutory obligations. These RFIs will request “comment on enforcement, supervision, rulemaking, market monitoring, and education activities.” The first RFI will seek information regarding the Bureau’s Civil Investigative Demand processes and procedures.

    On January 18, the CFPB voluntarily dismissed its case against four online installment lenders for allegedly deceiving customers by collecting debts that were not legally owed, previously covered by InfoBytes here. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleged, among other things, that the lenders engaged in unfair, abusive, and deceptive acts—a violation of the Dodd-Frank Act—by collecting on installment loans that are partially or wholly void under state law. In September 2017, the case was transferred to Kansas, where the Bureau’s notice of dismissal was filed. The notice does not specify a reason for the dismissal.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession CFPB Enforcement CIDs Federal Reserve Federal Register UDAAP Installment Loans Debt Collection

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  • CFPB plans to reconsider payday rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On January 16, the CFPB announced plans to reconsider its final rule addressing payday loans, vehicle titles loans, and certain other extensions of credit (previously covered in a Buckley Sandler Special Alert) by engaging in a rulemaking process. While the announcement was made on the effective date of the final rule, most provisions do not require compliance until August 19, 2019. However, the deadline for submitting a preliminary approval to become a registered information system is April 16, 2018. The Bureau noted that it will consider waiver requests from potential applicants.

    Notably, this marks the second recent announcement in which the agency refers to itself as “the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection,” instead of the more-commonly used “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” Both titles are used in the text of the Dodd-Frank Act, though the sections of the Dodd-Frank Act authorizing creation of the CFPB used the “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection” naming convention.  The agency also previously updated its mission statement located at the bottom of each release.

    For more InfoBytes coverage on the latest CFPB changes, click here.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Succession CFPB Payday Lending

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  • CFPB succession update: Judge denies English’s motion

    Federal Issues

    On January 10, Judge Timothy Kelley denied CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English’s request for a preliminary injunction to prevent OMB Director Mick Mulvaney from serving as the acting director of the CFPB. In his opinion, Judge Kelley emphasized that English failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits because, among other reasons, “[t]he best reading of the two statutes [at issue] is that Dodd-Frank requires that the Deputy Director ‘shall’ serve as acting Director, but that under the [Federal Vacancies Reform Act] the President ‘may’ override that default rule.” Additionally, in finding that English failed to demonstrate irreparable harm, Judge Kelley stated that “[t]he CFPB is not and will not be shuttered; it continues to operate with Mulvaney functioning as acting director” with “the backing of the CFPB’s General Counsel and senior management.” He concluded his opinion by stating:

    There is little question that there is a public interest in clarity here, but it is hard to see how granting English an injunction would bring about more of it….  The President has designated Mulvaney the CFPB’s acting Director, the CFPB has recognized him as the acting Director, and it is operating with him as the acting Director.  Granting English an injunction would not bring about more clarity; it would only serve to muddy the waters.

    The decision follows a hearing on December 22, 2017, where Judge Kelley heard arguments from both parties, as previously covered by InfoBytes. While English’s requests have now been denied twice, as expected, she has filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is also currently considering the challenge to the CFPB’s constitutionality by PHH Corporation.

    In addition to the English litigation, Mulvaney and President Trump face similar arguments in a complaint brought by a credit union in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, as previously covered by InfoBytes here. On December 22, 2017, the defendants responded to the complaint with a motion to dismiss, arguing that the credit union does not have standing to sue, will not succeed on the merits, and will not suffer irreparable harm from the appointment. In its reply, the credit union added an additional argument that the CFPB’s decision to slow HMDA enforcement will remove the compliance incentive and HMDA data “will cease being reliable” to show compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”). The credit union asserts that banks deposit at their institution to meet CRA objectives but may cease to do so without an incentive to comply with HMDA. A hearing is scheduled for January 12. 

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the CFPB issued a statement that supervisory examinations of 2018 HMDA data will be “diagnostic” to help “identify compliance weaknesses, and will credit good-faith compliance efforts” and that it does not intend to impose penalties with respect to errors reported in the 2018 data.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Courts HMDA Congressional Review Act

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  • Arguments Heard in English Litigation; CFPB Announces Relaxed Compliance Requirements for HMDA; Other Proposed Rulemakings

    Federal Issues

    On December 22, Judge Timothy Kelley heard arguments from both parties related to Leandra English’s litigation against President Trump and Mick Mulvaney. Judge Kelley did not rule on the matter at the close of the hearing. As previously covered by InfoBytes, English filed an amended complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and a motion for preliminary injunction on December 6.

    In response to English’s new arguments, the defendants filed an opposition motion on December 18.  Among other things, the response counters an argument—raised by English for the first time in her amended complaint—that the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) cannot be used to appoint an acting CFPB Director because the Director is also a member of the FDIC. Defendants responded that the FVRA provision excluding appointments to independent multi-member boards or commissions only applies to direct appointments and not to positions that serve as “ex officio” members, as the CFPB Director does on the FDIC. The defendants go on to explain that English’s interpretation would prevent the use of FVRA to fill multiple Cabinet and other high-ranking Executive Branch positions that serve as ex officio members of independent agencies. The defendants also alleged that English failed to satisfy the requirements of the federal quo warranto statute – the exclusive means, according to the defendants, for directly challenging Mulvaney’s authority to perform as Acting Director of the CFPB. English replied to the defendant’s opposition motion on December 21.   

    Throughout the week, the CFPB took action regarding current and future rulemakings:

    HMDA. On December 21, the CFPB issued a statement regarding compliance with the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) final rule and amendments to the HMDA final rule. Although the Bureau did not delay the January 1, 2018 effective date as some had hoped, it acknowledged the difficulties of coming into compliance with the new requirements, stating that the Bureau “does not intend to require data resubmission unless data errors are material or assess penalties with respect to errors for data collected in 2018 and reported in 2019.” According to the CFPB, compliance with the HMDA requirements pose “significant system and operational challenges” and therefore, institutions should focus the 2018 data collection on identifying areas for improvement in their HMDA compliance management systems for future years. The Bureau further advised that it expects that supervisory examinations of 2018 HMDA data will be “diagnostic” to help “identify compliance weaknesses, and will credit good-faith compliance efforts.” However, institutions will still use the CFPB’s new HMDA Platform for data collected in 2017.  The FDIC and the OCC issued similar announcements, Financial Institution Letter FIL-63-2017 and OCC Bulletin 2017-62 respectively, and other regulators are expected to do the same. 

    The Bureau’s stated intent to focus on “good-faith compliance efforts” and “material” errors in the early days of the new HMDA requirements is similar to the approach taken for implementation of the Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule and the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule.  While this flexible approach is generally beneficial for lenders and consumers, it does produce some uncertainty over what will be considered “good faith” or “material.”

    The Bureau also announced its intent to engage in additional HMDA rulemaking that may (i) re-examine the criteria determining whether institutions are required to report data; (ii) adjust the requirements related to reporting certain types of transactions; and (iii) re-evaluate the required reporting of additional information beyond the data points required in HMDA, as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act.

    Prepaid Accounts. On December 21, the CFPB also issued a statement on the final rule covering prepaid accounts and the proposed amendments to that rule. In the statement, the CFPB announced that it intends to adopt final amendments “soon after the new year” and that it expects to further extend the April 1, 2018 effective date to allow more time for implementation. The Bureau did not give details on the nature of the amendments or the length of the expected extension.

    Debt Collection. On December 14, OMB released a Notice of Action, which reflected that the CFPB withdrew its plan to conduct a survey related to debt collection disclosures of 8,000 individuals. According to OMB’s notice, the CFPB withdrew the plan because “Bureau leadership would like to reconsider the information collection in connection with its review of the ongoing related rulemaking.”

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Courts CFPB Debt Collection Prepaid Rule HMDA

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  • Seventeen State AGs Express Mulvaney Concerns to Trump and Emphasize AG Consumer Protection Authority

    State Issues

    On December 12, seventeen state attorneys general sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern about OMB Director Mulvaney leading the CFPB. The AGs emphasize Mulvaney’s past criticisms of the Bureau as evidence that Mulvaney should be disqualified from the position, even in the acting capacity. Notably, the AGs stress their statutory authority to enforce state and federal consumer protection laws, noting they “will continue to enforce those laws vigorously regardless of changes to CFPB’s leadership or agenda.” They go on to state that if the CFPB does not do the job, the states will “redouble our efforts at the state level to root out such misconduct and hold those responsible to account.”

    The letter, led by New York AG Eric Schneiderman, was signed by the following state AGs: California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington State.

    State Issues Federal Issues CFPB Succession State AG

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  • English Litigation Continues as Mulvaney Delays CFPB Enforcement Cases and Lawmakers Begin New Payday CRA Action

    Federal Issues

    On December 6, Deputy Director of the CFPB, Leandra English, filed an amended complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and a motion for preliminary injunction with a supporting memorandum. In her amended complaint, English adds, among other things, a constitutional claim alleging that President Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney violates Article II, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which empowers the President to appoint “Officers of the United States,” subject to “the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” According to English, since Mulvaney was appointed without Senate approval and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) allegedly does not provide the President with a separate authority, President Trump does not have the constitutional authority to appoint Mulvaney in the manner he chose.

    The amended complaint also alleges that the appointment of Mulvaney under the FVRA is illegal because that act cannot be used to make an appointment to an “independent multi-member board or commission without Senate approval,” and the CFPB Director is, by law, a member of the FDIC’s board. This argument mirrors the argument made in a new complaint filed on December 5 by a New York-based credit union against President Trump and Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to contest the legality of Mulvaney’s appointment. The defendants have yet to respond to the credit union’s complaint.

    With respect to English’s litigation, the defendants are set to respond to the motion for preliminary injunction, which builds off the arguments in the amended complaint, by December 18, and a hearing on the motion is set for December 22.

    Mulvaney has continued his work as Acting Director at the CFPB. On December 4, according to sources, he met with reporters to announce his decision to delay at least two active litigation cases as part of his plan to reevaluate the Bureau’s enforcement and litigation practices. The first case concerns a district court dispute between the Bureau and an immigration bond company over whether the CFPB has the authority to enforce a civil investigative demand for personal information about the company’s customers. The second case involves Mulvaney’s decision to withdraw the Bureau’s demand that a mortgage payment company post bond after being ordered to pay a $7.9 million civil money penalty (see previous InfoBytes coverage here). Mulvaney’s December 4 statements also included a freeze on the Bureau’s collection of consumers’ personally identifiable information. These actions follow directions issued by Mulvaney during his first week at the Bureau as previously covered by InfoBytes here.

    Mulvaney has also suggested that he would not seek to repeal the Bureau’s final rule concerning payday loans, vehicle title loans, deposit advance products, and longer-term balloon loans but expressed his support for resolution H.J. Res. 122, which was introduced December 1 by a group of bipartisan lawmakers to override the rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  The final rule is set to take effect January 16, 2018, but compliance is not mandatory until August 19, 2019. A press release issued by the House Financial Services Committee in support of the resolution stated, “small-dollar loans are already regulated by all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Native American tribes. The CFPB’s rule would mark the first time the federal government has gotten involved in the regulation of these loans.”

    On December 5, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a letter to Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) stating that CFPB Bulletin 2013-02 (Bulletin) on indirect auto lending and compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) is a “general statement of policy and a rule” that is subject to override under the CRA. According to GAO, the CRA’s definition of a “rule” includes both traditional rules, which typically require notice to the public and an opportunity to comment, and general statements of policy, which do not. GAO concluded that the Bulletin meets this definition “since it applies to all indirect auto lenders; it has future effect; and it is designed to prescribe the Bureau’s policy in enforcing fair lending laws.” GAO’s decision may allow Congress to repeal the four year old Bulletin through a House and Senate majority vote under the CRA, followed by the President’s signature. Sen. Toomey issued a statement saying, “I intend to do everything in my power to repeal this ill-conceived rule using the [CRA].”

    Additionally, and as expected, on December 5, former Director Richard Cordray officially announced his candidacy for governor of Ohio.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Courts CFPB Auto Finance Fair Lending Payday Lending Congressional Review Act

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  • Mulvaney Completes First Week as Acting Director of CFPB

    Federal Issues

    In his first week at the Bureau, Mulvaney ordered freezes on hiring and any new regulations for 30 days, and also announced a halt to payouts from the enforcement fund. It is also reported that Mulvaney has put new enforcement actions on hold as he reviews on-going matters. Additionally, on December 1, the White House appointed Brian Johnson, an aide to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), to assist Mick Mulvaney in his role as the Acting Director of the CFPB. Johnson was a featured speaker at Buckley Sandler’s CFPB Today conference at the end of October.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, Judge Timothy Kelly, denied CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English’s  request for a temporary restraining order preventing Mulvaney from acting as the Acting Director. English is expected to continue the litigation; a briefing schedule is due in the case by December 1.

    Federal Issues CFPB Trump Courts CFPB Succession

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  • Court Denies Restraining Order Preventing Mulvaney’s Appointment

    Federal Issues

    On November 28, Judge Timothy Kelly denied a request by Leandra English, who was appointed Deputy Director of the CFPB by Richard Cordray on the same day as his resignation, for a temporary restraining order preventing the President from appointing anyone other than English as Acting Director and preventing Mick Mulvaney from serving as the Acting Director (see previous InfoBytes coverage for details).

    English’s counsel, in remarks to reporters outside the courtroom, stated they may seek an appeal, may move for a preliminary injunction, or may move for an expedited final decision on the merits.

    Federal Issues CFPB OMB Trump Courts CFPB Succession

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  • Legal Battle Begins Over Mulvaney Appointment as Acting Director of CFPB

    Federal Issues

    On November 26, the newly appointed Deputy Director of the CFPB, Leandra English, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against President Trump and Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), seeking declaratory judgments that English is the Acting Director of the CFPB – and Mulvaney is not – as well as emergency temporary restraining orders preventing the President from appointing anyone other than English as Acting Director and preventing Mulvaney from acting as the Acting Director.

    The legal action results from the November 24 resignation of Richard Cordray as the Director of the CFPB and his naming of English as the Bureau’s Deputy Director (previously covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert) citing to section 1011(b)(5) of the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA), which provides that the CFPB’s Director may appoint the Deputy Director who “shall…serve as acting Director in the absence or unavailability of the Director.” Following Cordray’s official resignation, the White House issued an announcement appointing Mulvaney as Acting Director under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (FVRA).

    On November 25, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel released a memorandum in support of the President’s authority to designate Mulvaney as the Acting Director of the Bureau under the FVRA. According to the DOJ, while Congress recognized there would be cases in which FVRA was not the “exclusive means” for succession, Congress did not intend for the FVRA to be “unavailable” when another statute provides an alternative for succession. Accordingly, the DOJ asserts that, notwithstanding the succession provision in the DFA, FVRA gives the President the authority to, “rely upon it in designating an acting official in a manner that differs from the order of succession otherwise provided by an office-specific statute.” In her complaint, English argues that the succession provision in the DFA controls over the FVRA and that the appointment of a White House official is inconsistent with the CFPB’s independent structure.

    Similarly, on November 25, the General Counsel for the CFPB, Mary Mcleod, issued a statement to the senior leaders of the Bureau concurring with the DOJ’s conclusion that “the President may use the [FVRA] to designate an acting official, even when there is a succession statute under which another official may serve as acting.” Mcleod concluded that Mulvaney is the Acting Director of the CFPB and encouraged all Bureau staff to act consistently with that conclusion.

    Oral arguments on English’s emergency motion were held on November 27 by Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee. Judge Kelly did not rule on the motion and granted the government’s request to file papers responding to English’s arguments.

    Federal Issues Courts CFPB Trump Dodd-Frank DOJ OMB CFPB Succession

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  • Trump to Select Mulvaney as Interim CFPB Director

    Federal Issues

    According to media sources, President Trump is expected to select Mick Mulvaney, the current Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to serve as the interim Director of the CFPB upon Richard Cordray’s resignation at the end of this month. Mulvaney would keep his current position and serve as both the Director of OMB and Acting Director of the CFPB throughout the interim term.

    Federal Issues CFPB OMB Trump CFPB Succession

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