Oct. 25, 2017

Arbitration Rule Repeal Shows Corporate Lobbyists Pulling the Strings in Washington

Pence’s Tie-Breaking Vote Betrays Servicemembers and Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Vice President Mike Pence’s deciding vote on Tuesday night to kill a popular consumer protection was a shameless betrayal of consumers and servicemembers, Public Citizen said today. Pence joined 50 U.S. Senate Republicans and cast the deciding vote to overturn the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) arbitration rule that allows predatory banks, payday lenders, credit card companies and other bad actors in the financial industry to steal from Main Street Americans.

Repealing the rule will allow banks and other financial institutions to continue ripping off customers with impunity. The financial sector has contributed tens of millions to senators who supported overturning the rule and spent untold amounts lobbying against the rule.

In 2016 alone, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $1.5 million in support of U.S. Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) re-election bid. And it has given more than $15,000 to U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). This doesn’t even begin to account for the other banks and corporate lobbyists who have given to these senators, who were considered swing votes on Tuesday night.

“The politicians cultivate an image as independent, but they show no independence from the financial industry,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The CFPB rule was defeated because of the toxic mix of money in politics that keeps members of Congress beholden to their corporate benefactors.”

The rule was overwhelmingly popular. More than 300 advocacy organizations signed a letter supporting the rule and nearly 100,000 citizens signed a petition urging the Senate to protect their rights. In addition, The Military Coalition, representing 5.5 million servicemembers, The American Legion29 military groups and leading veterans supported the rule, which allows individuals their day in court against corporate actors who swindle, cheat or mislead their customers.

“A few weeks ago, Pence left a football game feigning outrage over what he alleged to be disrespect to our military. Yet his actions on Tuesday will strip those same servicemembers and veterans of the very rights they fight to protect,” said Amanda Werner, arbitration campaign manager for Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform. “Actions speak louder than words, and Pence’s stance here is clear. True leaders defend the little guy against powerful interests, not feed him to the wolves of Wall Street.”

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