Kathleen Kraninger, Director of the CFPB, delivered the Bureau's "Semi-Annual Report to Congress” this morning, addressing a fully remote hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Speaking on the topic of whistleblowers, Kraninger said, in “our enforcement work, we have seen firsthand that whistleblowers can provide key information on fair lending violations.”
During COVID-19, Kraninger said the Bureau has been taking various measures to safeguard consumers, working to expand its reach to as well as provide them with actionable, useful information in terms of their rights, options, and expectations in the marketplace or consumer finance products and services.
“We produced over 70 blogs and videos that have been accessed directly by more than three million users,” Kraninger added.
U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R - Idaho), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said, “I commend Director Kraninger and her staff for taking these steps to help consumers, families, and small businesses as they continue to weather this global coronavirus pandemic. I continue to advocate for establishing a bipartisan board of directors to oversee the CFPB; subjecting the CFPB to the annual appropriations process, similar to other federal regulators; and establishing a safety-and-soundness check for the prudential regulators.”
However, Senator John Tester (D - Montana), another member of the committee, was decidedly more tepid, questioning Kraninger on just how aggressively the CFPB has acted against violations.
Kraninger said that every enforcement action involved a decision by the director, “and it's one I take seriously." Last year, Kraninger noted, the CFPB had 22 public enforcement actions and resolved a number of prior mitigation actions, a figure she expects will be “notably higher” by the end of the fiscal year.
She indicated that while she didn’t know how much money had been returned to consumers as a result of enforcement actions “off the top of my head,” she promised to provide that information. “I can tell you that the number of investigations ongoing has increased.”
The CFPB has been the focus of much attention recently, with the Supreme Court in June weighing in on the constitutionality of the CFPB's single-director structure.
“The CFPB’s single-Director configuration is also incompatible with the structure of the Constitution, which—with the sole exception of the Presidency—scrupulously avoids concentrating power in the hands of any single individual,” the ruling stated. Additionally, the court said its director “must be removable by the President at will.”