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Senate Attack on Consumer Rights Must Be Defeated

Sept. 25, 2017


Senate Attack on Consumer Rights Must Be Defeated

Senate Leaders Threaten Vote to Overturn Arbitration Rule; Effort Comes as Trump Administration Seeks Broad Deregulation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate leadership’s push to repeal a key consumer financial protection this week would leave millions of people vulnerable to rip-offs and should be defeated, Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform said today. Apparently attempting to take advantage of public attention on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, senators are pushing for a vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to roll back the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule. The rule would curb forced arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts by allowing customers to join together to hold financial companies accountable.

The possible vote comes as the Trump administration prepares a broad effort to weaken consumer, environmental and worker protections across a vast swath of public policy. The broad effort to repeal regulation is a payback to corporate donors who spent more than $1 billion to get their way in Congress. The financial services industry, determined to fight the arbitration rule, has given more than $100 million in campaign contributions to Senate Republicans who are attempting to overturn it using the CRA’s expedited process. The CRA allows Congress – by majority vote in both chambers, with limited debate and no possibility of a filibuster – to reverse recently finalized public protections. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution repealing the arbitration rule on July 25.

“Even after elected officials from both major parties condemned Wells Fargo and Equifax, these same politicians are about to cast a vote that would help them get away with wrongdoing,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “This push for deregulation led by the Trump administration and the majority in Congress is wildly out of step with the views of the American people and would leave millions of consumers vulnerable to financial rip-offs and scams.”

“This rush toward a vote in the Senate is a cynical attempt to roll back an important consumer protection before anyone gets straight answers from Equifax and Wells Fargo about the damage they’ve done to the financial lives of millions of Americans,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. “Wall Street is trying to remain above the law. But we expect that senators from both parties, mindful of public opinion, will think twice before letting them get away with it in such an obvious way.”

“Failing to take health care away from millions of Americans, the Senate leadership now wants to take away the rights of Americans – whose vital information was stolen from under the company’s nose – to hold Equifax accountable,” said Amanda Werner, arbitration campaign manager for Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform. “Now is the time to get answers and hold these lawbreakers accountable, not hand them a get-out-of-jail-free card in advance.”