Since it seems like Republicans are going to fail, again—on Obamacare repeal this week—they’re working on another way to screw the American people. And they’re using the cover of Trumpcare to do it, convinced that they can sneak a vote in to nullify a key rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while everyone is watching for a Trumpcare vote.
Republican leaders are whipping to secure the votes to overturn a rule CFPB finalized in July, which would protect financial companies from class-action lawsuits and deny consumers a day in court. The rule is among the most consequential actions the CFPB has taken since its founding.
An added wrinkle here: Executives for both Wells Fargo and Equifax, both accused of ripping off millions of consumers, will testify in Senate committees next week. Both companies have used arbitration clauses in an attempt to deny consumers access to the courts. By getting the arbitration vote out of the way before the hearings, Republicans can avoid having to hand a gift to financial companies while Wells Fargo and Equifax sit squarely in the public spotlight. With Obamacare repeal sucking up all the oxygen, this week offers a perfect cover.
“This rush toward a vote in the Senate is a cynical attempt to roll back an important consumer protection before anyone gets straight answers from Equifax and Wells Fargo about the damage they’ve done to the financial lives of millions of Americans,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform.
The CFPB’s rule bans forced arbitration in consumer financial contracts, allowing for consumer to join together in class-action lawsuits in response to things like Wells Fargo’s massive consumer fraud and Equifax’s failure to protect the most critical personal data of almost every American who has a credit record. Leave it to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to try to kill the rule protecting American consumers this week.
He might not have the votes even in his own caucus, however, according to The Intercept. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) at this point seem unlikely votes. This vote would not be subject to a Democratic filibuster, because it’s being done under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to reject any federal agency regulation within 60 legislative days of its being finalized. The House has already passed it, and the clock is ticking for the Senate to follow suit. So while you’re calling your Republican senator(s) on Trumpcare—202-224-3121—give them an earful on this, too. Tell them to side with the people instead of Wall Street, for once.