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Phil Ingrassia

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia, appearing in the April issue of RV Executive Today, offers an update on the latest news on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

In the continuing saga of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and dealer-assisted vehicle financing, another government agency has weighed in on the matter.

The General Accounting Office issued a statement saying the CFPB’s 2013 bulletin, titled “Indirect Auto Lending and Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act,” was a rule for the purposes of the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

For five years, RVDA and other allies have pushed back against the CFBP guidance, arguing it limited dealer-assisted financing options for customers.

The GAO’s decision that the guidance is subject to congressional review is important, because the act requires all federal agencies, including the CFPB, to submit copies of proposed rules to Congress. As many in the vehicle financing industry pointed out, the CFPB never did that. This means the GAO’s decision that the bulletin is a rule means Congress could reject the bulletin through legislation.

What’s more, earlier this year, CFPB acting director Mick Mulvaney removed the agency’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity enforcement powers. This office will be moved under Mulvaney’s direct supervision and work on “advocacy, coordination, and education.” The decision came after Mulvaney said the bureau will no longer “push the envelope” to enforce consumer protection laws.

This is more welcome news. RVDA and others have objected to the CFPB’s reliance on questionable statistics and disparate impact theories to pursue discrimination allegations that served as its rationale for issuing the misguided vehicle lending guidance.

It’s clear that these recent actions are ushering in a new direction for an agency that initially pushed policies regarding vehicle lending that don’t have anything to do with protecting consumers and could reduce access to credit.

RVDA will continue to advocate for reforms to the CFPB that promote greater transparency and accountability and include appropriate checks and balances on the bureau’s authority.