Republicans Seek Information About New Consumer Finance Bureau

U.S. House Republicans are seeking information about the agenda and structure of a new bureau that will write and enforce regulations aimed at protecting consumers’ use of financial services in the nation.

Representatives Spencer Bachus and Judy Biggert sent a letter dated Nov. 22 to the inspectors-general of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department requesting “rigorous” oversight of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, according to a copy obtained by Bloomberg News. They requested a response by Jan. 10.

Republicans, probably blocked by a Democratic Senate and White House from making major changes to the financial-regulation overhaul, are preparing procedural tactics to influence how the new law is applied. The Republicans, who will take power in the House in January, are seeking to ensure the final language meets their expectations.

The agency will be “shaping the availability of credit for consumers and small businesses,” wrote Bachus, the leading candidate to run the House Financial Services Committee in the next Congress, and Biggert, currently the top Republican on the panel’s oversight and investigations committee.

“History indicates that the process of setting up a new government agency is extraordinarily challenging and difficult,” Biggert and Bachus wrote. “Missteps, both large and small, that occur during this ‘start-up’ phase have adverse effects that linger for many years.”

President Barack Obama signed legislation in August that creates the bureau. In September, he named Elizabeth Warren as a special adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the White House to assist in setting up the agency. The bureau will be part of the Treasury until July 21, when it will be taken over by the Fed.

“To date, we know very little about the activities being undertaken by the Treasury to establish the Bureau,” the two lawmakers wrote.

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