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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Patrick Murphy retreats from payday lender bill

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy appeared to distance himself today from legislation that seeks to block new regulation on payday lenders. The move has spared him from a possible attack ad campaign.

"I support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's action today to exercise its authority to strengthen lending practices nationwide and protect consumers,” Murphy told the Tampa Bay Times in a statement sent from his congressional office.

“I will continue to monitor the CFPB's implementation and enforcement should gaps in consumer protection or access to credit arise, and am hopeful that this will bring much-needed commonsense oversight to prevent abuse from hurting working people across America."

His office did not respond to a follow-up message if it means he is dropping support for the bill. Murphy has heralded Florida regulations as a national model.

The Times has not yet heard from several other Florida House members who are backing the bill that aims to prevent some of the changes outlined today by the CFPB. (More on the rules here.)

Critics, including liberal lion Elizabeth Warren, say the House bill is a handout to an industry that charges exorbitant interest to poor people. They noted sizable industry donations to Murphy and other lawmakers, including Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alcee Hastings.

Earlier today Hillary Clinton issued support of the CFPB regulations.

"Abusive payday lenders have for too long been a drain on the resources of families in need, charging outrageous fees and interest rates, trapping families in never-ending cycles of debt, and subjecting them to brutal debt collection practices,” Clinton said. “Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- a government watchdog dedicated solely to protecting working Americans from unfair and deceptive financial practices -- is putting forward an important proposal to crack down on abusive payday lending, and I stand with them in that effort.”

Hastings and Wasserman Schultz have not yet responded to a request for comment. Rep. Dennis Ross, a Lakeland Republican sponsoring the House bill, was unavailable, a spokeswoman said.

The liberal group Allied Progress has already bankrolled TV ads against Wasserman Schultz and is planning a new campaign targeting either Hastings or Murphy.

UPDATE: Allied Progress says it is taking Murphy out of contention of the ads.

"Make no mistake – the CFPB’s proposed rule flies in the face of the disastrous ‘Florida model’ of payday lending and H.R. 4018, legislation initially co-authored by Rep. Patrick Murphy,” said Allied Progress executive director Karl Frisch. “That said, the Congressman has shown true leadership and an impressive willingness to more carefully consider the plight of millions of Americans who find themselves trapped in a cycle of debt brought on by predatory payday lenders. He should be applauded for doing the right thing and coming out in support of the CFPB’s proposed rule to rein in the worst abuses of this industry. Other members of Congress could learn a thing or two from this demonstration of thoughtful leadership.”

[Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2016 6:23pm]


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