Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney recently said in an email to agency employees that he no longer wants the agency to “push the envelope,” something for which his predecessor had called.
“It is not appropriate for any government entity to ‘push the envelope’ when it comes into conflict with our citizens. The damage that we can do to people could linger for years and cost them their jobs, their savings, and their homes,” Mulvaney wrote in his memo.
He added, “There will absolutely be times when circumstances dictate that we take dramatic action to protect consumers. And at those appropriate times, I expect us to be vigorous in our enforcement of the law. But bringing the full weight of the federal government down on the necks of the people we serve should be something that we do only reluctantly, and only when all other attempts at resolution have failed. It should be the most final of last resorts.”
By way of example, he said that enforcement will need to be justified. “When it comes to enforcement, we will be focusing on quantifiable and unavoidable harm to the consumer. If we find that it exists, you can count on us to vigorously pursue the appropriate remedies. If it doesn’t, we won’t go looking for excuses to bring lawsuits,” he wrote.
Mulvaney also said in the memo that he had no intention of shutting down the CFPB and he couldn’t even if he wanted to since the law does not allow for it.
He did, however, recently request zero funding for the agency for the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. In a letter sent to Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, Mulvaney said he was requesting $0 for the quarter.
“The reason for this is straightforward,” wrote Mulvaney. “I have been assured that the funds currently in the Bureau Fund are sufficient for the Bureau to carry out its statutory mandates for the next fiscal quarter while striving to be efficient, effective and accountable.”
He noted in his letter that his predecessors had maintained a reserve fund to address “possible financial contingencies,” but he said he was not aware of any statutory authority to maintain such a fund. He also said he saw no “practical reason” to maintain such a large reserve fund. Consequently, he was asking for no additional funding for the quarter.
Leadership Dispute at the Agency
Mulvaney’s leadership at the CFPB has been contentious because of a dispute that arose back in November over who was in charge at the agency.
CFPB’s former director Richard Cordray appointed Leandra English to take over when he resigned his post. However, the Trump administration stepped in and appointed Mick Mulvaney to be the interim director of the agency. English then sued, saying she was the rightful leader.
As of the time of this writing, the CFPB website lists Mulvaney as the Acting Director and English as the Deputy Director.
A district court denied English’s restraining order last month, thereby allowing Mulvaney to remain the legal interim director of the agency. However, a federal appeals court has agreed to expedite English’s appeal, so the case appears to still be ongoing.