Who’s in Charge at CFPB?

A hiring freeze has been announced at CFPB amidst a legal battle that has ensued over who gets to lead the agency.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has announced that a 30-day hiring freeze will be in effect at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In a press briefing on Monday, Mulvaney announced some immediate changes going into effect at the agency.

Besides the 30-day hiring freeze, he also said that there is an immediate 30-day freeze on any new regulations and guidance coming from the agency so he can get a chance to see “what’s going on” at the CFPB. There also will be no payments out of the civil penalties fund for 30 days.

Mulvaney stressed that the CFPB will remain open, and he is not making any efforts to close down the agency despite rumors to the contrary. He did say though that the mission of the agency will be different under the Trump administration than it was under the Obama administration, and that anybody who thinks that the new administration would not operate it in a different way would be “naive.”

“I don’t have specifics yet on how that’s going to translate into action in terms of that new attitude we are taking here at CFPB in light of the fact that the Trump Administration is now in charge, but I will tell you the the same thing that I told these folks today is what’s happened immediately,” he told reporters in advance of announcing the various temporary freezes he is putting in place.

Who’s in Charge?

There has been intense dispute which started over the weekend as to who is in charge of the agency.

The Trump administration maintains that it is within its rights to name a new director for CFPB. The Justice Department announced over the weekend that under the 1998 Federal Vacancies Act, the president has the authority to appoint an acting director to the CFPB, regardless of the the agency’s previously established line of succession.

However, CFPB’s former director Richard Cordray appointed Leandra English to take over when he resigned his post. English then sued the Trump administration on Sunday to block Mulvaney’s appointment, calling herself the “rightful acting director.”

Both Mulvaney and English showed up for work at the agency on Monday, both acting as though they were in charge. English sent an email to agency employees welcoming them back from the Thanksgiving holiday and signed it as “Acting Director.”

Mulvaney came into the office too, bringing in donuts to share and saying in an email to agency employees, “Please disregard any instructions you receive from Ms. English in her presumed capacity as Acting Director.” He also signed his email with the title “Acting Director.”

And the Court Says…

Update: A U.S. district court issued a decision late today allowing the Trump administration to keep Mick Mulvaney in place as the CFPB’s Acting Director, denying Leandra English’s request for a temporary restraining order to keep her position at the agency in place.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.