U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said his proposal to change the leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is “hardly a radical concept.”
“You’d think I’m attacking motherhood or apple pie,” Bachus, an Alabama Republican, said today as he defended the legislation at an Independent Community Bankers of America conference in Washington.
Bachus’s committee plans to begin work this week on efforts to reshape or repeal part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the financial-regulation overhaul approved by Congress last year before Republicans took control of the House. Two subcommittees are scheduled to mark up 10 bills to change the law, including measures to restructure the consumer bureau.
Elizabeth Warren, the adviser appointed by President Barack Obama to stand up the agency, has clashed with Republicans in congressional testimony, speeches and television interviews over the structure of the agency, which is to start work on July 21.
Bachus introduced a bill in March that would replace the post of director with a five-member bipartisan commission, saying the structure imposed by Dodd-Frank places too much power in the hands of one person.
“It has nothing to do with Elizabeth Warren, it really has nothing to do with her,” Bachus said.
After a pause, Bachus drew laughs from the bankers when he said, “I will not take a lie detector test.”
‘Knife in the Ribs’
In response to Republican criticism, Warren and Obama administration officials noted that the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a panel of regulators responsible for oversight of the entire banking system, has the power to overrule any regulation crafted by the bureau.
Warren, in an interview last month on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” said some in Washington, are trying to put “a knife in the ribs” of the new agency.
Bachus, who has called the FSOC oversight insufficient, will need broad support from Republicans and bipartisan backing in the Democrat-led Senate and White House to win enactment of his proposal. Bachus told reporters today that he believes he can get the support of some Senate Democrats.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, has said he will fight efforts to undo the law. Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Financial Services committee, said he also will oppose the Republican efforts to change to the law that bears his name.