House subcommittee to hold hearing on CFPB’s constitutionality


On March 21, 2017, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Financial Services will hold a hearing entitled “The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s Unconstitutional Design.” Based on the title of the hearing, isn’t hard to guess where the committee stands on the issue of the CFPB’s authority and constitutionality.

According to the memorandum from the Committee’s Majority Staff to Committee Members, the hearing “will examine whether the structure of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (“Bureau”) violates the Constitution as well as structural changes to the Bureau to resolve any constitutional infirmities.”

While the memo does not explicitly identify any alleged constitutional deficiencies, it makes subtle reference to two potential issues: (1) that the CFPB is headed by a single Director who is removable by the President only for cause, and (2) that the bureau is funded outside of the congressional appropriations process through transfers from the Federal Reserve.

The following witnesses are scheduled to testify:

  • The Honorable Ted Olson, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP (lead counsel to PHH)
  • Saikrishna Prakash, James Monroe Distinguished Professor, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Adam White, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
  • Brianne Gorod, Chief Counsel, Constitution Accountability Center