Mulvaney Vows Humility From CFPB in Ex-Lawmaker's House Hearing

(Bloomberg) -- Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget chief temporarily running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, defended his minimalist approach to leading the agency while delivering his first semiannual report to Congress on Wednesday.

“Our job is to enforce federal consumer financial laws, and our focus will be on carrying out only those activities Congress explicitly wrote into law,” the ex-congressman told former colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee. He highlighted the work he has done since taking on the CFPB role in November to transform the bureau from an aggressive regulator to one that acts with “humility and moderation.”

In his testimony, Mulvaney repeated the longstanding Republican argument that CFPB should be funded by Congress instead of the Federal Reserve and also get lawmaker approval for any new rules. He also argued for explicitly making the bureau’s chief report directly to the president and establishing an independent inspector general for the agency.

Mulvaney often decried what he saw as the CFPB’s lack of accountability when he was a Republican member of the Financial Services Committee. He said Democrats now criticizing his unfettered leadership should see that as a sign that “a lapse in democratic structure and republican principals has occurred” in the creation of the agency under the Dodd-Frank Act.

He told the committee Wednesday that he’d requested $98.5 million last week from the Fed for third-quarter agency funding. He had announced in February that he was requesting no funding for the second quarter of the government’s fiscal year, arguing that the agency’s expenses could be covered by $177.1 million in reserve funds left by his predecessor.

President Donald Trump’s administration has yet to name a permanent replacement for Obama administration appointee Richard Cordray. Mulvaney said earlier this week that he expects he’ll be filling in for the rest of this year, given the pace of Senate confirmations. Meanwhile, he has been splitting his time between the CFPB and his job as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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