CUNA Supports Mulvaney as Acting CFPB Director
On December 12, the Credit Union National Association (“CUNA”) filed an amicus brief in D.C. Federal District Court. In the brief, CUNA opposes Leandra English’s motion for a preliminary injunction. English seeks to block President Trump’s appointee for Acting CFPB Director, Mick Mulvaney, from exercising the powers of that office. The Court has already denied English’s motion for a temporary restraining order.
CUNA is the largest organization representing the nation’s 6,000 credit unions, which are heavily regulated by the CFPB. As such, it has a significant interest in the outcome of preliminary injunction hearing.
Vacancies Reform Act
In its brief, CUNA argues that Mulvaney’s appointment was entirely proper under the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (“VRA”). It calls English’s argument that the CFPB Director is presently “unavailable” or “absent” what it is—nonsense. Following Corday’s resignation, the office of CFPB Director was vacant.
Under the VRA, when an office is vacant, the President has the power to appoint an acting officer to fill the post, subject to certain limitations. Indeed, when the VRA was passed, the Senate committee that considered the VRA explicitly stated that, “statutes enacted in the future purporting to or argued to be construed to govern the temporary filling of offices covered by this statute are not to be effective unless they expressly provide that they are superseding the Vacancies Reform Act.” So, because Dodd-Frank did not explicitly override the VRA, the VRA governs.
In addition, CUNA points out the serious constitutional problems that would result if the court adopted English’s position. If she is right, then a departing CFPB Director would have the power to appoint anyone as his or her successor. That would include non-citizens. At the same time, the President would have more limited powers of appointment under the VRA. That would give the CFPB Director more power than the President over an agency in the executive branch of government.
What’s more, English’s argument also implies that the President would be as unable to remove an Acting CFPB Director as he is the CFPB Director. That only exacerbates the constitutional defects at the heart of the PHH case, which we have blogged about extensively.
CUNA’s brief, which Ballard Spahr authored, highlights the industry perspective on why Leandra English is wrong and why the court should not unwind the President’s appointment of an Acting CFPB Director. We will continue to follow this unfolding saga closely.