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Mick Mulvaney Faces Lawmakers


There was a faceoff on Capitol Hill yesterday. On one side, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. She helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the financial crisis. On the other side, the Trump administration's interim director of the bureau. He wants to dramatically scale back its power. NPR's Chris Arnold has the story.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: When Mick Mulvaney was a Republican congressman, he sponsored a bill to abolish the Consumer Protection Bureau. Now that he's running it, the bureau's dropped a lawsuit against alleged predatory lenders. And Democrats say he hasn't done anything to help consumers. In a Senate hearing, Elizabeth Warren told Mulvaney...


ELIZABETH WARREN: You are hurting real people to score cheap political points.

ARNOLD: Warren talked about some of the real people who the bureau helped before Mulvaney got there. It's gone after financial firms and returned $12 billion to people. She said one case involved active-duty service members who got scam car loans.


WARREN: Those 50,000 active-duty military would have been out of luck if the CFPB had been abolished just like you wanted, right, Mr. Mulvaney?

MICK MULVANEY: Again, the OCC has concurrent jurisdiction.

WARREN: Yeah. They have concurrent jurisdiction, which they did not use.

ARNOLD: Mulvaney, for his part, told lawmakers in the House and Senate that he is enforcing the law and not dismantling the bureau.


MULVANEY: I have not burnt the place down.

ARNOLD: But before Mulvaney, the bureau was bringing several enforcement actions a month, and he acknowledged...


MULVANEY: We have initiated none since I've been there.

ARNOLD: Mulvaney says he intends to be a less aggressive regulator and he'd like that to continue after he's gone. He wants Congress to put the watchdog bureau on a much shorter leash. For one thing, the bureau now gets its funding from the Fed. Mulvaney wants it to have to ask Congress for money. And he told lawmakers...


MULVANEY: Why y'all wanted to give up the appropriation power that Congress has over this agency, I don't understand.

ARNOLD: It's unlikely Republicans have the votes to make big changes to weaken the Consumer Bureau, but consumer advocates are still worried that Mulvaney might throw out more ongoing lawsuits and revoke or change consumer protection rules. Chris Arnold, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996 and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.