Democrats passed Dodd-Frank when they had the majority against Republican opposition. Largely at the insistence of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Dodd-Frank created the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) isolating it by law from congressional oversight or funding.
Then Congressman Mick Mulvaney warned of the consequences of creating such an entity with legislative immunity.
Proving that fate is fickle, Mulvaney resigned from the House when he was appointed to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Most ironically when the head of the CFPB resigned, President Trump appointed Mulvaney to become the head of the CFPB amidst howls from the Democrats.
Suddenly Senate Democrats want to do something about the CFPB mainly to cause trouble for Trump. To make a point, Mulvaney is thumbing his nose with immunity refusing to answer questions from the Democrats demonstrating the absurdity of the mistake they made by isolating the CFPB from congressional oversight.
Mulvaney To Congress: Thanks To You, I Don’t Have To Answer Any Of Your Questions — Ever
From Hot Air: By ED MORRISSEY, April 12, 2018
When Mick Mulvaney served in the House, he tried to warn colleagues that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was too independent of Congress. Now that he’s running the CFPB, Mulvaney wants to demonstrate just how correct he was. For the second straight day, the acting director has told a congressional panel that he can just sit in front of them all day and ignore their questions, and there’s nothing they can do about it:
NEW: Mick Mulvaney (@CFPBDirector) – in opening testimony to Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – says, “while I have to be here by statute I don’t think I have to answer your questions if you take a look at actual statute that requires me to be here”
10:31 AM – Apr 12, 2018
Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), told a Senate panel on Thursday that he’s not legally bound to answer lawmakers’ questions, only to appear before them, in comments meant to stress his agency’s independence.
“While I have to be here by statute, I don’t think I have to answer your questions,” Mulvaney told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “If you take a look at the actual statute that requires me to be here, it says that I ‘shall appear’ before the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs of the Senate. And I’m here and I’m happy to do it.”
Mulvaney delivered the same message to the House yesterday. In testimony before the Financial Services committee, Mulvaney pointed out that the enabling statute for the CFPB only required him to show up when asked. Otherwise, he could just as well twiddle his thumbs or answer e-mails rather than answering any questions from Congress:
Mick Mulvaney took his seat before a congressional committee Wednesday for the first time since his controversial appointment to be the nation’s top consumer financial watchdog and boldly declared he didn’t have to say a word.
“I believe it would be my statutory right to just sit here and twiddle my thumbs while you all ask questions,” Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told the House Financial Services Committee.
Jeb Hensarling found it hilarious, calling protests from his Democratic colleagues “great comic relief”:
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who has been the leading opponent of the bureau, said “it is sheer irony and great comic relief to see the wailing and gnashing of teeth of many of my Democratic colleagues” about their inability to hold Mulvaney accountable.
Hensarling validated Mulvaney’s view that Dodd-Frank doesn’t require him to answer lawmakers’ questions, adding that “you could play Candy Crush for the next few hours and there would be nothing we could do about it.”
This attempt to force Congress to reckon with its own bad ideas didn’t just start yesterday. Mulvaney threw the first punch last week in correspondence with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who helped create the agency — and its independence from Congress. The Washington Examiner covered the exchange:
Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Mick Mulvaney has told Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., that he doesn’t plan on responding to her questions about the agency, and said it’s her fault that he is not required to answer.
Mulvaney, a conservative who was an outspoken critic of the bureau during his time as a congressman, told Warren in a letter sent Wednesday that the structure of the agency, which she helped design, shields him from accountability.
“I encourage you to consider the possibility that the frustration you are experiencing now, and that which I had a few years back, are both inevitable consequences of the fact that the Dodd-Frank… Act insulates the Bureau from virtually any accountability to the American people through their elected representatives,” Mulvaney wrote.
Mulvaney flat-out refused to answer Warren’s written questions. Both today and yesterday, though, Mulvaney engaged the questions from the panels. Perhaps a rhetorical hoisting of Congress by its own petard will be sufficient to get the message across, pushing Congress to reform the CFPB to make it more accountable in its exercise of power. Otherwise, Mulvaney might really have to play Candy Crush the next time rather than exchange Words With Authoritarians to make his point.