representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) has a long list of items on his agenda as the head of a House committee overseeing the banking sector and the economy.
What to do is to ask the Wells Fargo representatives to ask questions, to find out what Mick Mulvaney did at the Office of Consumer Financial Protection, or to create a subcommittee on discrimination for To ensure that the rules of the game are fair, she will have a lot of power thanks to her new vision. Chair of the House Financial Services Committee.
"We are going to do all the work that needs to be done," Waters said in a recent interview.
As president, she will have a big role to play in monitoring. It will be able to bring officials from agencies and financial services companies to testify before the committee, request documents and issue subpoenas.
Consumer protection is not the sexiest problem, but it is a problem that literally affects the lives of everyone – from credit cards to mortgages to student loans. And this administration has demonstrated a clear penchant for the industry, diluting the rules that would reduce predatory predatory lenders, dismantling financial protections for the armyand taking overall more pro-Wall Street position. Waters might be able to use the projector on it to draw attention to that.
The Trump administration did a lot of damage to the CFPB. The waters will try to stop some of the bleeding.
Waters is a member of the 15-member House representing the 43rd Congressional District of California, which covers part of Los Angeles. She has been a member of the Financial Services Committee since 1991, serve as a member or president of each subcommittee under her jurisdiction since 1995 and will now be the first woman and the first African-American to lead the committee.
In a letter to her colleagues after the 2018 mid-term sessions, Waters outlined her plans if she was chosen to chair the Financial Services Committee. "I will give priority to protecting consumers and investors from abusive financial practices," she wrote.
A priority area: the CFPB, the agency created as part of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform and an original idea by Senator Elizabeth Warren, aimed at protecting consumers from fraud and financial abuse.
Under his first director, Richard Cordray, the office by his own account processed more than 1.2 million consumer complaints and provided nearly $ 12 billion in assistance to consumers who were harmed.
Under Mulvaney, who assumed the duties of interim director of the office in November 2017 until the permanent director, Kathy Kraninger, was confirmed last month, the activities of the office have been considerably reduced. Mulvaney eased restrictions on often predatory payday lenders, dissolved advisory groups in the office, stripped of the powers of execution an office to look for discrimination, and weakened financial protections for the army.
CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger will address the media on December 11, 2018 at the office. Carolyn Kaster / AP
Mulvaney may no longer be in charge of the CFPB, but Waters intends to continue to deepen its activities. In December, Waters sent a letter Mr. Mulvaney, currently Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Acting Chief of Staff of President Trump, informs him that he can ask him to testify about the activities of the CFPB under his supervision. She also gave Kraninger notice as soon as it was confirmed. appealing to her roll back "anti-consumer actions of his predecessor".
In his interactions with the CFPB, Waters was able to extract a page from the game book of his Republican predecessor on the Financial Services Committee, retired representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), who had an adversarial relationship with Cordray. Hensarling criticized the CFPB as "rogue agency"and accused Cordray to abuse his authority – a criticism often made by Republicans against the CFPB.
"It has certainly set a precedent by requiring a lot of information from the office and a careful review of what's going on," said Lauren Saunders, Deputy Director of the National Consumer Law Center. "The main difference is that the congressional congresswoman is not fundamentally hostile to the mission of the agency."
Waters said she did not intend to call Kraninger in Congress "just to hit her," but she intended to keep in touch.
"We will act in a very responsible way," she said. "We will not only retaliate, but we will be extremely responsible."
Waters plans to tackle some of the bad actors
Wells Fargo has been the subject of a series of scandals in recent years, including the creation of millions of fake accounts for ignorant consumers and charge people for auto insurance they did not need. He is now under special restrictions by the Federal Reserve, and in April, the CFPB hit with a Fine of a billion dollars.
Waters, which in 2017 released a Report of 38 pages on Wells Fargo and called for that to be completely closed, is still not satisfied with the progress of the megabank in difficulty. "It looks like they can not act together," she said.
Timothy Sloan, CEO of Wells Fargo, testifies at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on October 3, 2017. The Committee held a hearing to review the bank scandal regarding his false count one year after its disclosure. Alex Wong / Getty Images
Waters plans to meet Wells Fargo's CEO, Timothy Sloan, to "see what he has to say about documented abuse," assuming he "knows where the bodies are buried". In her letter to her colleagues, she also called Equifax, the credit assessment company that has compromised the personal data of some 150 million people in 2017.
Waters proposed legislation relating to both – it introduced the law on the reform of detailed information on consumer credit and the law on the responsibility and the consequences of the megabank last congress.
The ability to generate securities is important
Waters' power over businesses and regulators may not be so much in the legislation as it will draw attention to them and make them headlines. Although it may pass legislation through the House Financial Services Committee and possibly the House, a Republican-controlled Senate will probably not be able to take on many Democrats-led bills. This does not mean that its activities will not matter.
"People overestimate the power of influence and underestimate the power of influence," said Aaron Klein, a researcher in economic studies at the Brookings Institution and a former assistant to the Treasury Department. "Is there a hard thing that they can do? Not directly. Is there a pressure that they can put on a regulator? Absolutely."
A regulator that Waters could target: the controller of the currency, Joseph Otting, who oversees and regulates the national banks. He is currently involved in a revision the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a 1977 law designed to encourage banks to meet the credit needs of all communities, including low- and middle-income areas. Democrats worry that the CRA's modernization efforts will facilitate the use of discriminatory practices by lenders, particularly after the Otting shutdown m said in June, at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, he had "never personally observed" discrimination.
Joseph M. Otting speaks after his swearing-in ceremony as Treasurer of the Treasury Department on November 27, 2017. Alex Brandon / AP
Waters said that she supports efforts to "reform" the CRA's regulatory framework, but expressed "great concern" about what it sees as the Competition Commission's decision to "relax its application" of the BOW.
She will have the opportunity to press Otting for more details on her projects. "We expected the proposed changes to the CRA to be consistent with the purpose of the CRA. If not, why are we going in that direction? "Yana Miles, who was then senior legislative counsel in legislation at the Center for Responsible Lending, said in an interview in December. On Thursday, she started as senior counsel for the House Financial Services Committee.
And the more time the regulators have to prepare the hearings or the documentation to send to Congress, the less time they will have for their other work – in other words, simply by asking for information, Waters will be able to slow down the deregulation program of the Trump administration. .
She will also be able to signal values and strengthen monitoring in different ways, as with the subcommittees she creates. In this regard, it plans to establish a subcommittee on diversity and inclusion, which will be formally established when the rules of the commission are established by the new Congress.
"We believe that we can not only clearly define all cases of discrimination, but also make recommendations and try to work with all the entities involved to eliminate them," Waters said.
Waters has the reputation of being able to work across the hall
Although Waters has attracted attention in recent months over its fierce opposition to Trump, on Capitol Hill, she also has a reputation for being a person capable of working on the other side to make advance legislative priorities.
"I've cared enough for her to understand that she can have an overview," said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) politico in October. "It is possible to negotiate with her and she will keep her word."
At the last congress, for example, Waters and Hensarling set up the JOBS Act 3.0, a set of 32 proposals for financial regulation, including changes to access to credit, disclosure of investments and capital increases. (The bill did not go anywhere in the Senate.) As a the Wall Street newspaper It also notes that it had also agreed with Hensarling to extend "business-friendly programs" such as the National Flood Insurance Program and the Import-Export Bank.
President Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), a senior member on the left, assist with the tagging of the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn Building on October 11, 2017. Tom Williams / CQ roll call
"If you went from a pragmatic to ideological scale, Hensarling would have been very high on the ideological scale, but Waters less," said Ian Katz, analyst at the research firm Capital. Alpha Partners in Washington. "She is not as ideological about legislation as Hensarling."
Waters said she planned to "work on" to find areas of legislative compromise with Republicans. However, she criticized some party members for being skeptical of the government's decision to bail out the banks during the financial crisis while simultaneously supporting some of the deregulation that led to the crisis.
"It surprises you to see how much they support them and some of the attempts to allow banks to do things that are not in the best interest of the people they should serve," she said. .
The waters could also potentially introduce a bill that, while perhaps not viable in the current Congress, could be ready if the Democrats control the Senate and / or the White House. That's what happened with the law on credit cards 2009, which promulgated reforms on the credit sector. President Barack Obama signed the law shortly after its inauguration, even though the original work President George W. Bush was still in office.
By definition, Waters is not opposed to the financial services sector. "People in the industry who feel anxious could be pleasantly surprised," Miles said.
The joker: the waters against the trump
Although Waters may find areas of overlap with Republicans in Congress, the Democrats' conflicting relationship with President Trump could make things more difficult.
"Trump's corrosiveness is a profound challenge," said Klein of the Brookings Institution. And nothing indicates that Waters is planning to back down.
Waters downplayed speculation that she will push for investigations on Trump's finances or issue subpoenas from Deutsche Bank, she asked Hensarling to send in 2017. But as for the president, she does not mince words – the tweet above is pinned at the top of her Twitter profile and she and the president often exchange spikes.
She also has no problem criticizing Trump when he tackles his approach to consumer protection.
"I believe that the President of the United States not only provides no leadership [in this area]but it's not something that worries him. It seems that his past business practices, as such, allow him to take advantage of everything possible, "said Waters. She cited the example of the late deceased Trump University, which earlier this year reached a $ 25 million settlement after thousands of students claimed that they had been scammed.
Waters is a bit in a tricky situation in terms of Trump: her attacks on her – and her rebuttals – have led to much speculation about what she could do to get information about her finances as Chair of the Services Committee of the House. This may overshadow the rest of its agenda, but it also gives it a bigger platform to draw attention to other issues, including consumer issues.
Waters also reflected on why she thinks she has managed to put herself under the skin of Trump like others. "The boldness of this African-American woman to challenge the President of the United States certainly did not welcome her," she said.
Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) speaks at a rally against the Republican tax plan outside the US Capitol on November 1, 2017.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images