While public attention was focused on the Graham-Cassidy healthcare saga, Senate Republicans were working behind the scenes to strip away consumer protections passed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The protections include a rule that allows Americans, like you, to file class action lawsuits against companies that rip you off. If you were one of the 143 million Americans screwed over by the Equifax security breach, the protection allows you to fight back. Unfortunately, the House has already passed a resolution to repeal the rule, and now the Senate is trying pass it too. If it passes, Americans will be stripped of the right to file class action lawsuits, making it easier for corporations to dodge the consumers they’ve wronged.
What makes this even crazier is that Equifax and Wells Fargo are expected to testify in front of the Senate Banking Committee on October 4th for wronging consumers. Despite that or maybe because of it, Senate leaders are trying to pass the resolution before the testimony while all eyes are focused on other things. They hope to avoid the bad optics of handing these financial institutions a win while they are in the public spotlight. Unfortunately for them, their relationship is clear: 24 cosponsors of the Senate resolution to overturn the CFPB rule have received over $100 million in contributions from the financial sector over the course of their political careers.
The power of these financial institutions doesn’t stop there. Corporate interests have spent over $1 billion lobbying Congress to overturn consumer safeguards, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has assured financial industry lobbyists that he will call a vote to overturn the rule as soon as he has enough support. The quid pro quo circle is complete.
Americans expect that Equifax and Wells Fargo will be punished for their egregious handling of consumer information and financial data. Yet Congress is set to actually reward them for their behavior by protecting them from the very consumers they harmed. It doesn’t matter that two thirds of Americans support keeping the consumer protections, because Senate leaders want to sneak the resolution through while no one is looking.