October 23, 2014

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Head Accused of Lying at House Committee Hearing

The first and second rules of Congressional Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Congressional Fight Club. The third rule is that if a new bureau head spends her time in front of a committee hearing being evasive and, allegedly, lying … she has to fight.

Or something like that.

What happened during today’s hearing was that Representative Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, accused Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Elizabeth Warren of misleading lawmakers in earlier testimony about her role in talks between government authorities and mortgage-servicing companies. McHenry also called Warren out for, according to him, reneging on her agreement to appear before the committee this week.

After an hour in which Ms. Warren repeatedly parried efforts by Mr. McHenry and other Republicans to nail her down with “yes or no” answers to questions concerning her testimony in March and about the bureau’s powers and responsibilities, Mr. McHenry moved to temporarily recess the hearing to allow members to travel to the House floor for a vote on an unrelated matter.

Ms. Warren objected, saying that she had juggled her schedule as the committee repeatedly changed the time of the hearing in recent days and had agreed to be present for only an hour.

A vigorous back-and-forth ensued.

“Congressman, you are causing problems,” Ms. Warren said. “We had an agreement.”

“You’re making this up,” Mr. McHenry replied. “This is not the case.”

The argument, an unraveling of the decorum that usually characterizes discussions among even the most fervent opponents during Congressional hearings, demonstrated the level of frustration that some Republicans apparently feel over the consumer agency, which was established as part of the Dodd-Frank Act that followed the financial and mortgage crisis.

The hearing Tuesday was intended to address the oversight that Congress should require for the agency.

Instead? Nothing got accomplished.

So … it looks like, nearly one year later, everyone is still totally thrilled with Dodd-Frank and that its implementation will continue to go swimmingly for all involved parties.

Reform is so easy.

Risk Management Magazine and Risk Management Monitor. Copyright 2014 Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. All rights reserved.

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