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House tries to shackle consumer agency

WASHINGTON— As the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officially opened its doors Thursday, the House was considering legislation that could restrict its authority to act against abuses of the financial system.

Republican sponsors of the bill say they are trying to promote transparency and accountability in the agency that was created a year ago as part of President Barack Obama's overhaul of the rules over financial markets.

But the White House has threatened to veto the legislation, saying it would expose consumers to the same risks that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. The Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to take it up.

The agency, created to shield consumers from mortgage, credit card, lending and other financial abuses, has become the focal point of continued GOP opposition to the financial overhaul law enacted last year.

Presidential adviser Elizabeth Warren, who led efforts to get the agency operating, has faced several grillings before the House and all 47 Senate Republicans have said they will block confirmation of Warren or anyone else Obama nominates to be director of the agency unless Obama agrees to change its structure.

The House bill would replace the agency's director with a bipartisan five-member commission and withhold new authorities the agency is to receive until the Senate confirms the chair of that commission. It would make it easier for other financial regulators to block the agency from issuing regulations.

House tries to shackle consumer agency 07/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 21, 2011 9:59pm]
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