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Senate CRA Vote Sets a Dangerous Deregulatory Precedent

April 18, 2018

Senate CRA Vote Sets a Dangerous Deregulatory Precedent

Statement of Amit Narang, Regulatory Policy Advocate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: Today, by a vote of 51-47, the U.S. Senate passed S.J. Res. 57, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval overturning the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) indirect auto lending guidance aimed at preventing racial discrimination. The CRA allows Congress – by majority vote in both chambers, with limited debate, no possibility of a filibuster and the president’s signature – to overturn recently issued public protections.

It’s troubling that, for the first time, the CRA is being used to target nonbinding guidance documents, which agencies can amend or withdraw quickly and easily. The Senate just wasted valuable floor time repealing auto lending guidance that interim CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney could get rid of just by snapping his fingers. Apparently the Senate majority is more interested in helping vulnerable incumbents raise campaign cash from the powerful and well-heeled auto lobby than in protecting consumers who are being charged more for car loans based on the color of their skin. Voters have every right to be offended and alarmed by this unprecedented and craven abuse of the CRA for yet another corporate payback scheme.

Today’s Senate vote sets a dangerous deregulatory precedent that stretches the CRA far beyond its original intent, allowing Congress to overturn regulatory protections that have been in place for years or even decades. The CRA never was intended to be used against older, settled rules. But now Congress is claiming the ability to repeal commonsense safeguards that have been in place since 1996 if those rules weren’t submitted to Congress – opening up a new front in the right’s war on regulations.