The acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a key Republican senator clashed Thursday over whether agency officials are overstepping the agency’s authority even before it has a permanent leader.
Dave Uejio “rescinded CFPB policies that provided regulatory clarity, clearing the path for the CFPB to return to regulation-by-enforcement,” Senate Banking Committee ranking Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania alleged at a hearing. “Finally, he’s shown little regard for the CFPB’s jurisdictional limits.”
Uejio defended his tenure at the CFPB, saying, “I have enforced American’s consumer financial protection laws, deploying the Bureau’s enforcement, supervision, rulemaking, and guidance tools to protect vulnerable consumers from illegal unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices.”
The CFPB has been at the forefront of ideological battles for several years. During the Obama Administration, Director Richard Cordray adopted a strict regulatory regime. When President Trump took office, the agency became much more friendly toward its regulated businesses. With the victory of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race, the agency has signaled it will be much more aggressive about enforcement, much to the consternation of Republicans.
Uejio was not at the hearing to testify on CFPB matters. Instead, he was before the committee to testify on his own nomination as assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Rohit Chopra has been nominated to head the CFPB, but his nomination has not gone to the Senate floor yet.
During Thursday’s hearing, Toomey also charged that Uejio has made several personnel moves to force agency employees to leave and that he has not adequately answered questions about those moves. “There have been serious allegations that, under Mr. Uejio’s leadership, the CFPB is taking unusual and possibly unlawful actions to forcibly replace career civil servants with loyalists.,” Toomey said. “Yet he’s refused to provide Congress with documents relating to these allegations.”
Uejio said that he was not appearing before the Banking Committee as acting CFPB director but was there for his own confirmation hearing.
He said that he has not consulted with Chopra on policy or personnel moves at the bureau. “All of the decisions at the CFPB have been my decisions,” he said.