Washington D.C. – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Rohit Chopra will appear before Congress today where he is widely expected to face hostile criticism from Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee over the bureau’s hugely popular crack down on ‘junk’ fees. A review from government watchdog Accountable.US found Republican committee Chairman Patrick McHenry and his top lieutenants have defended the practice of excessive overdraft and late penalties after taking millions of dollars from industries that abuse them. No one is expecting any acknowledgment from these Members today that the CFPB’s initiative has already helped save a staggering $4.25 billion as many big banks have chosen to preempt the bureau’s actions by voluntarily revamping their overdraft and non-sufficient fund fee practices. When fully implemented, the CFPB’s plan to cap credit card late fees at $8 will save American families $9 billion every year.
Consumers have already saved billions under the Biden administration’s junk fee crackdown, yet industry-cozy Republicans in Congress like Patrick McHenry want the CFPB to apologize for doing their job.
After taking money hand over fist from corporations notorious for junk fees, these Republicans claim the practice somehow does consumers a favor by separating them from billions in hard-earned money every year. With a straight face, McHenry and company argue a $35 overdraft fee on a gallon of milk or loaf of bread teaches financial responsibility even though the excessive penalties are often buried in the fine print. Chairman McHenry should at least be honest about why they carry the water for the financial industry at the expense of consumers.”
Liz Zelnick, Accountable.US’ Director of Economic Security and Corporate Power.
House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC):
- “Led” a March 2022 letter to the CFPB defending overdraft as a form of “short-term liquidity,” mirroring bank industry talking points after receiving at least $792,000 from the three largest banks that raked in over $3.76 billion in overdraft/NSF fees in 2021 and industry groups opposed to overdraft regulation, including $1,000 from the Independent Community Bankers of America the day before McHenry led a letter attacking the CFPB for its efforts to regulate overdraft and other junk fees.
- Has received at least $92,500 over his congressional career from the American Financial Services Association (AFSA), which supported the CFPB Transparency and Accountability Reform Act, legislation McHenry said “ensure[s] the CFPB is finally accountable to Congress and the American people.”
House Financial Services National Security, Illicit Finances, and International Finance Subcommittee Chair Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO):
- Defended overdrafts as “a legitimate short-term liquidity product” after receiving at least $573,500 over his career from the three largest banks that raked in over $3.76 billion in overdraft/NSF fees in 2021 and industry groups opposed to overdraft regulation, including $8,000 from industry just days before he defended overdraft.
- Falsely claimed “Junk fees don’t exist, okay?”
- In March 2023, introduced the Consumer Financial Protection Commission Act and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection-Inspector General Reform Act, two pieces of legislation supported by the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which have given Luetkemeyer $70,000 in combined campaign contributions.
- Has received at least $98,000 from the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) which supported his CFPB-IG Reform Act and provisions similar to his legislation to replace the CFPB Director with a commission.
House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy Chair Subcommittee Chair Andy Barr (R-KY):
- Echoed talking points that overdraft protections served as a form of “short-term liquidity” and questioned the CFPB’s authority to rein in junk fees while receiving at least $389,500 in contributions from the three largest banks that raked in over $3.76 billion in overdraft/NSF fees in 2021 and industry groups opposed to overdraft regulation, even receiving $5,000 from Bank of America in the two weeks after he defended the practice and $1,000 from ICBA three days before.
- Has repeatedly introduced the Taking Account of Bureaucrats’ Spending (TABS) Act, which has been applauded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and opposed by consumer advocates for undermining the CFPB’s enforcement capabilities and giving “‘a free pass to Wall Street.'”
- Has received at least $75,000 from the American Financial Services Association (AFSA), which supported his legislation to alter the CFPB’s funding structure, leadership structure, and rulemaking progress.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL):
- Worked in the finance and banking sector for 17 years, including at Wells Fargo from 2015 to 2020, and has introduced legislation to eliminate the CFPB while in Congress, calling the agency “the epitome of the Washington swamp,” “unconstitutional,” and “highly partisan.”
- Has received at least $29,000 from former employer Wells Fargo and industry groups opposed to CFPB rulemaking going after overdraft fees.
- Has received at least $16,000 from two industry groups that have filed a lawsuit against the CFPB’s anti-discrimination enforcement practices, with lead plaintiff U.S. Chamber accusing the Bureau of “an ideological agenda.”
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC):
- Has received at least $41,000 from banking industry groups that have opposed CFPB regulation and oversight efforts, including on bank overdraft practices.
- Cosponsored legislation to abolish the CFPB entirely after calling it a “rogue organization” that “ought to be zeroed out” and celebrated the appointment of his congressional predecessor Mick Mulvaney to head the “out-of-control” CFPB during the Trump administration.