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As CFPB Continues Work on Payday Lending Protections, Congress Pushes Effort to Weaken Consumer Bureau

Friday, June 2, 2017
Diane Standaert

One year ago, CFPB issued a proposed rule to stop the debt trap.

Today, Congress seeks to advance bill to gut CFPB and give a free pass to payday lenders.

The CFPB's ability to issue a strong rule against the abuses of 300% payday loans is exactly why Congress should be defending the CFPB, not attacking it.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer advocates and civil rights organizations are calling on Congress to let the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finish its job of finalizing a strong rule on payday and car-title lending. A year ago today, people from across the country gathered in Kansas City, Missouri to witness the announcement of a long-awaited proposal by the CFPB to rein in the harms of payday, car-title, and other high-cost installment loans. At the heart of the CFPB's proposal is the commonsense idea that people should be able to repay their loans without defaulting on other expenses or reborrowing. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of people have urged the CFPB to finalize a strong rule to prevent the harms of these unaffordable debt trap loans.

Meanwhile, payday lenders and their supporters in Congress keep trying to delay and block the CFPB from doing its important work. Members of Congress have geared up to dismantle the Consumer Bureau, most notably with the recent reintroduction of the Financial Choice Act, dubbed the Wrong Choice Act,—authored by Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas)—which would severely weaken the Bureau’s ability to protect consumers from predatory lenders. Among several anti-consumer provisions, the bill includes legislation that would prevent the CFPB from regulating payday and car-title lenders. If the Wrong Choice Act were law today, payday lenders would have a free pass to keep people trapped in a cycle of debt. The bill is expected to have a floor vote next week.

“It was clear a year ago and it's clear today that the harms of payday lending must be stopped,” said Diane Standaert, Executive Vice President and Director of State Policy at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). “Every day payday lenders strip millions of dollars out of the pockets of people already struggling to make ends meet. We call on our members of Congress to stop defending payday lending and to oppose the Choice Act.”

“Common sense dictates that lenders should be sure that borrowers can pay back their loans on time,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “But payday lending does not follow common sense, and rarely works as advertised. It uses the lure of quick cash to trap struggling families in a cycle of debt and slowly drain them of what little money they have. It’s shocking, but not surprising, that some in Congress would stand up for the practice. Lawmakers should get on the side of civil rights advocates, the religious community, consumer organizations, and the public at large by supporting the CFPB’s effort to impose common sense rules on the industry. “

“The Latino community’s support for a strong, final payday rule has not wavered in the year since CFPB issued its proposed rule. In just six years of existence, the CFPB has consistently shown its commitment to consumer protections, and now, more than ever, we need the agency to stand on the side of consumers against predatory financial actors that prey on communities of color. We urge the CFPB to issue a final rule on payday lending and we reject Congressional attacks that weaken CFPB’s authority to curb the harmful payday practices that drain wealth from our communities,” said Lindsay Daniels, Associate Director of Economic Policy, National Council of La Raza.

“The CFPB has done great work to keep our financial institutions accountable to the public. It needs to build on this progress and issue a strong rule that protects families against these abusive, triple digit interest payday loans,” said Seema Agnani, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development. “Congress should also follow the Bureau’s lead by strengthening consumer protection policies and not give free passes to payday lenders like the Financial Choice Act does. We don’t want our families in any way vulnerable to the abuse payday lenders carry out – trapping people with little money into cycles of debt that put them into ever worse situations."

CRL has documented the enormous harm predatory payday and car-title lending has on working families. A CRL 2016 report found that payday and car-title lenders drain $8 billion in fees every year from states that don’t ban the practices. Where they are legal, these loans typically lead to debt which is nearly impossible to escape, and are related to a cascade of other financial consequences, such as increased overdraft fees, delinquency on other bills, involuntary loss of bank accounts, and even bankruptcy. For car-title, the end result is too often the repossession of a borrower’s car, a critical asset for working families.

View additional information on the CFPB proposed rule on payday and car-title lending.

Below are reference items on payday and car-title lending:

For more information, or to arrange an interview with a CRL spokesperson on this issue, please contact Ricardo Quinto at ricardo.quinto@responsiblelending.org.