Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Structure Ruled Unconstitutional
Lack of accountability for federal agencies is something of great concern for many Americans. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed with me that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) single, unelected agency director with broad authority and hardly any accountability, is unconstitutional. While I applaud the court’s decision in that regard, its solution left something to be desired.
The court ordered that CFPB Director Richard Cordray be subject to removal or replacement by the President, a structure similar to many federal agencies. The problem with the court’s solution is that the CFPB was set up to be independent. However, the CFPB has proven that it is not so much an independent agency as it is a political agency.
The Bureau has acted politically in not using the public notice system and comment period for significant policy changes and in prohibiting consumers from accessing certain financial products. That is why I introduced H.R. 1266 last year, to alter the structure of the CFPB to a five-person, bipartisan commission. This is the structure that other independent agencies follow, and it would make the CFPB more accountable and politically neutral. After all, consumer protection is why the CFPB was created in the first place.
Spotlight on the House Agriculture Committee
One of the things I most appreciate about being on the House Agriculture Committee is that I have the opportunity to take part in hearings that directly affect a large number of people in my district. During the past year, the Agriculture Committee has worked to address issues important to farmers, ranchers, and consumers. Given consecutive years of declining farm income, the Ag Committee put a special focus on the state of the farm economy through a series of beneficial hearings this year.
This series of hearings is a good example of the Ag Committee taking the time to review and understand the economic challenges facing farmers and ranchers and the impact low prices have across local economies. From community banks and other lenders, equipment dealers and suppliers, it is not just the farmers and ranchers themselves who are affected by fluctuations in the market. The Ag Committee looked at these issues from all sides, including the cost of production inputs, the impact on consumer food prices and concerns of livestock producers. Access to credit is a key concern for producers, so I appreciated the opportunity to question expert witnesses on consolidation and financing for agriculture. You can watch the exchange here; my questions start at 1:06:50.
One of the benefits of these Committee hearings is that they present an opportunity to educate other Members of Congress, who often do not represent agricultural districts. When our Committee hears directly from producers, lenders, economists and others, we build a strong a record for why Congress needs to keep the five-year Farm Bill intact and make a case for protecting crop insurance and other programs.
The House Agriculture Committee has a tradition of being one of the more bipartisan committees in the House, and Ag Committee members share many common goals. While our Committee’s largest legislation, the Farm Bill, is the focus every five years, we work hard in between Farm Bills to understand the issues facing those who produce our food and fiber, oversee programs and regulations, and help others in Congress understand modern agriculture production.Read More
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
There is broad agreement that early detection is key when it comes to all forms of cancer. However, there can be different opinions about which screening practices are most effective, and women experience this with breast cancer screenings. Experts have various perspectives on the age that women should begin screenings, how often they should get screened, and by what method. Regardless of these differences, there are some recommendations that are just common sense.
First, according to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, women should make sure to do breast self-examinations. If anything feels strange or different, it is a good time to go in for a doctor’s visit. Secondly, women should see a doctor at least once a year and prepare questions in advance, especially if there is a family history of cancer. It is important to talk to your doctor about screening options and when screenings should start, given all individual risk factors. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this is a good time to talk to your doctor about what screening methods might be right for you or a loved one.
Spotlight on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
In the House of Representatives, committees are a major component in helping the House function efficiently. With the House currently out of session, I wanted to take some time to highlight work of the three committees I serve on. I am starting with the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, a committee I have been a member of my entire tenure in Congress. Federal agency oversight has been an important part of the Science Committee’s work this year.
First, the Science Committee has been looking into the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and instances where the agency has not exhibited good judgment. A priority for me has been stopping the EPA’s regulatory overreach and ensuring the EPA is using sound science as a basis for decisions. In March, I had the opportunity to question Mr. William Yeatman with the Competitive Enterprise Institute about the EPA’s Regional Haze air pollution control plan in Texas. In this instance, not only did the EPA push a plan with unreasonable measures on Texas, but it missed its own deadline for reviewing the plan Texas submitted – by four and a half years!
I also had the opportunity to question EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about the need for further cost-benefit analysis and transparency in the scientific methods the EPA uses in its rulemaking. Unfortunately, the EPA has proposed and finalized regulations based upon scientific methodologies that are not transparent or reproducible. A blatant example of this is the case of the Bristol Bay Pebble Mine in Alaska. I had the opportunity to question Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran about this issue in April.
In an attempt to reform the EPA’s process on such matters, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1030, the Secret Science Reform Act. Written by our committee, this legislation would require the EPA to make the scientific studies on which regulations are based publicly available in a manner that could be independently analyzed and reproduced. This will assure the soundness and unbiased nature of the science used.
While not all committee hearings make the headlines, they help us learn more about issues from experts and stakeholders, get answers from federal agencies, and determine what, if any, actions Congress should take. I enjoy working on the Science Committee because our jurisdiction allows us to look at the science related to energy, new technologies, and space, and also understand how that science is applied on issues important to Texans and all Americans.Read More
Congress Continues Government Funding into December
Last week, the House and Senate passed identical pieces of legislation to extend government funding at current levels through December 9. The short-term Continuing Resolution, or CR, keeps the federal government open for the new fiscal year, which began on October 1, while giving Congress additional time to make federal funding decisions.
I certainly support keeping the government running, but I also have to stay true to the conservative values of the people of the 19th District. While this government funding extension is now law, I could not vote for it. I believe this legislation kicks the can down the road, without solving any of the problems confronting our nation, and I could not support pushing Congress’ job even further down the line.
I also had some concerns with additional funding included in the CR to combat the spread of the Zika virus and to provide flood relief in Louisiana and other states affected by natural disasters. Some of the money allocated to fight the Zika virus has the potential to create a new funding stream for Planned Parenthood in affected states. Planned Parenthood has not been a good steward of your tax dollars, and I believe public health funds should be directed through other health care providers.
When Congress returns in November, we have significant unfinished business to address, including finding a way to responsibly fund the federal government for the full fiscal year. I will advocate for Congress to complete its responsibilities in the open and transparent manner the taxpayers deserve.
Financial Services Hearings
Last week was busy at the Capitol. Aside from working to continue funding the government, one of the Committees I am a member of, the House Committee on Financial Services, held three hearings.
First, the Subcommittee I chair, Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, held a hearing to examine legislation specifically geared toward increasing consumer access to banking services. Too many Americans are underbanked, meaning they have access to little or no banking services. This directly affects the daily lives of many individual Americans, and also makes it much harder to support a family.
Last Tuesday, the full Financial Services Committee questioned Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on the supervision and regulation of the overall financial system. I expressed to Chair Yellen my disappointment that the role of Vice-Chair of Supervision remains empty, despite being established six years ago. This position is important since it creates a point person to hold directly accountable for the Federal Reserve’s role in the supervision of our banks.
Last, but certainly not least, the full Committee questioned Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf about the opening of around two million fraudulent accounts. Specifically, I questioned Mr. Stumpf on his dual roles of CEO and Chairman of the Board of Wells Fargo, asking him if some level of oversight was missing or if those two roles might ever conflict. I believe further investigation into the actions of Wells Fargo and the regulators charged with overseeing the bank is warranted.
40th Anniversary of the Hyde Amendment
Friday of last week marked the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment. Named after Congressman Henry Hyde, who first introduced it, Congress has included this amendment in every piece of relevant funding legislation passed since 1976. The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal tax dollars from being used to fund abortion. The Hyde Amendment is estimated to have saved at least two million lives since it was first enacted. Approximately two-thirds of Americans agree that tax dollars should not fund abortions, showing strong support for continuing this policy. I have and will continue to fight to make sure the Hyde Amendment is included in funding legislation and will work toward making it permanent law.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee, delivered the following statement – as prepared for delivery – at today’s hearing for the House Financial Services Committee to question Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on the supervision and regulation of the financial system:
“Today’s hearing is fundamental to understanding developments in the prudential supervision and regulation of our nation’s financial institutions. The role of Vice-Chair of Supervision serves as the statutorily-designated official within the Federal Reserve to oversee supervision and regulation. In 2010, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, champion of the Volcker Rule, noted that the creation of this post ‘might turn out to be one of the most important things in there [Dodd-Frank]. It focuses the responsibility on one person.’
“Yet, President Obama has failed to nominate anyone to fill this important position – a position that sets prudential regulatory policy and represents the United States in international banking forums like the Financial Stability Board.
“I remained concerned that Governor Dan Tarullo continues to exercise these authorities outside the statutory construct and mandated oversight of Congress.
“Today, I hope to understand better many of the recent regulatory actions taken by the Federal Reserve. For example, how does the Federal Reserve’s posture of reducing bank leverage interact with its recent recommendation to repeal merchant banking authority?
“Or what type of risk does the Federal Reserve try to mitigate with its recent capital proposal for commodities activity?
“Similarly, what will the impact be to end users if physical commodity activity decreases or stops?
“Finally, does the Federal Reserve recognize the exposure-reducing characteristics of ‘segregated margin’ and does it plan to reevaluate its position in the leverage ratio rule given recent Basel Committee discussions?
“While Chair Yellen may not be best positioned to answer these questions, it is incumbent on her to do so given Presidential inaction.”
South Plains Honor Flight Visit
Today, I had the distinction of hosting the South Plains Honor Flight in our nation’s capital. My staff and I look forward to this particular visit all year. I enjoyed taking the Honor Flight group to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and escorting them through the U.S. Capitol Building. Not only is it an incredible honor to host nearly 100 veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, but it is also a wonderful reminder of all veterans’ sacrifices, courage, and fortitude. We need to remember to say thank you every day to those who have served, and those who continue to serve. These men and women put their lives on the line to defend our freedom and to fight for our liberty.
There are many roads to a career in the armed forces, and one of them is through the United States Service Academies. As a reminder, if you are a high school student interested in applying for a nomination to the Service Academies, the applications must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2016. For more information, see my website.
Wells Fargo Begins to Answer Questions about Recently Uncovered Fraud
Later this week, the House Financial Services Committee, of which I am a member, will hold a hearing regarding recently uncovered fraud at Wells Fargo. On Thursday, our committee will have the opportunity to ask questions to try to get to the bottom of this issue. Last week, the Senate Banking Committee questioned executives and regulators from Wells Fargo regarding the practice of bank employees opening accounts and credit cards not authorized by bank customers. One of the major concerns left unanswered from the Senate hearing is how this practice went on for so many years, without bank regulators ever noticing. In fact, regulators never exposed these fraudulent practices, but reporters for the Los Angeles Times did. Along with the Wells Fargo CEO, federal bank regulators have difficult questions to answer.
Looking at a Continuing Resolution to Keep Funding the Government
Congress needs to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) later this week to keep the government open and funded at the current levels before the new fiscal year begins October 1. The current outlook is for the Senate to vote on the CR legislation first and then send a bill to the House for consideration. While I support keeping the government funded to provide additional time for Congress to work out longer-term funding levels, I encourage House and Senate leadership to keep this short-term funding fix free of extra policy items that deserve their own debate and vote. Discussions over the CR are ongoing, and there is the potential for quite a bit to change over the course of this week. However, I am hopeful my colleagues and I can come together and pass a conservative funding bill that meets the short-term need of keeping the federal government open and lays the groundwork for setting responsible spending levels for the full year ahead.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee, delivered the following statement – as prepared for delivery – at today’s hearing entitled “Examining Legislative Proposals to Address Consumer Access to Mainstream Banking Services.”
“Today’s hearing is important to consider legislation that can have a tremendous impact on consumer credit and product access and education. I am pleased our Committee members on both sides of the aisle have taken thoughtful approaches to tackle issues that affect the daily lives of the American consumer.
“For example, Representative Royce (R-Calif.) has put forth two bills that would ensure a competitive environment for the selection of credit scoring models at the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), and to ensure the continued offering of credit education and counseling services.
“The latter bill is one that I want to continue to work with his office to refine and see across the finish line.
“Representatives Tipton (R-Colo.), Williams (R-Texas), and Emmer (R-Minn.) all have put forth bills seeking to address problems with the Federal Deposit Insurance Act that classify certain deposits as brokered deposits. These bills aim to ensure that new and innovative consumer products can continue to be offered without unnecessary regulatory constraints.
“Today’s panel will help this Committee ensure all policy issues are considered and that we make informed and thoughtful decisions as we move these bills forward.”
The bills to be examined by the Subcommittee include:
Letter to DOJ and BOP about Private Prison Directive
Last Friday, I was joined by five other Members of Congress in asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for detailed answers to questions raised by the DOJ’s August directive to phase out the use of private prisons. Texas 19 is one of several districts that stands to be adversely impacted by this directive, and we need to know how the BOP will implement this change in policy. Local officials have contacted me to express concern for their communities’ future economic security, especially since these private prisons are large employers both in Big Spring and in Garza County.
Both of the prisons in our area with BOP contracts primarily house criminal aliens. In addition to the local economic concerns, this directive also raises national security concerns because it sends the message that law enforcement for criminal aliens is not a priority for the federal government. If the federal government reduces the space currently used to incarcerate criminal aliens, where will these inmates go? While we wait for answers, I encourage the DOJ and the BOP to put this directive on hold. Our communities deserve a thoughtful and justified prison policy, not a policy driven by politics.
Financial Services Committee Approves Financial CHOICE Act
Last Tuesday, the House Financial Services Committee approved the Financial CHOICE Act and voted to report this legislation to the full House of Representatives. I am pleased with the progress our Committee is making on this significant effort to correct the mistakes of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The Financial CHOICE Act is also a key piece of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” policy plan to help get our economy back on track.
When Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, supporters of that law threw a wet blanket over the economy and tried to regulate banks into stability. Unfortunately, that government-knows-best mentality has not served consumers and community banks well. Subjecting small community banks to the same regulatory framework as big banks has caused more than 1,000 community banks to close or consolidate since 2010. The Dodd-Frank Act also included provisions that had nothing to do with preventing future bail-outs. Notably, it included government price-fixing for debit card swipe fees, known as the Durbin Amendment. When our Committee passed the Financial CHOICE Act last Tuesday, it included my provision to repeal this government price-fixing. Repealing the Durbin Amendment will help consumers and small businesses through renewed market competition and will help community banks offer features such as free checking accounts once again.
Now that we have moved the Financial CHOICE Act through the House Financial Services Committee, I hope we can take the next step and bring this bill before the entire House to advance the regulatory relief Americans deserve.
U.S. Brings Agriculture Trade Case against China
I am very pleased the United States has initiated a new agriculture trade enforcement action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO). U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the United States is bringing a case against China to challenge the support China has provided for its own wheat, corn, and rice crops. Like other countries, China agreed to limits on its domestic government support for agriculture when it joined the WTO. However, China has exceeded the limits it agreed to on corn, rice, and wheat by $100 billion in 2015 alone. Excessive government support, such as the market-price support China provides, artificially inflates the prices Chinese producers receive, causing overproduction that keeps out U.S. exports. China’s actions have created an uneven playing field for American producers who are following the rules. Moving forward, I hope U.S. trade officials also pursue enforcement action against unfair Chinese policies that impact other crops, such as cotton.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) issued the following statement today after sending a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) regarding the DOJ’s August directive to scale back the use of private prison contracts:
"I have many questions surrounding this directive. The DOJ and the BOP have not provided details about how this policy change will be implemented and the impact it will have. I am joined in this letter by five other Members of Congress whose districts, like Texas 19, stand to be heavily and adversely impacted by this decision. Local officials in our districts have expressed their dismay with this new directive and are understandably concerned about the economic security of their communities moving forward. I share their concerns.
“In addition to the impact on jobs and our local governments, this directive also raises questions of potential national security concerns because it sends the message that law enforcement for criminal aliens is not a priority for the federal government. One of the major questions that remains unanswered is where the prisoners currently housed in these private facilities will go.
"I hope to receive swift responses to these questions as we ask the DOJ to give serious consideration to reversing this directive. These contract prisons are the largest employers in many small communities. Our communities, as well as the nation’s taxpayers, deserve a thoughtful and justified prison policy, not a political solution."
H.R. 5063, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act
Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5063, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act. If signed into law, this legislation would close a loophole that has allowed the Obama Administration to bypass the Congressional budget and spending process and funnel money to interest groups of its choosing. H.R. 5063 would stop that practice and ensure money not given directly to victims in settlement of a lawsuit brought by the federal government goes into the Treasury for Congress to decide how to spend.
The Administration’s use of these slush funds has gone on for far too long. An investigation by the House Judiciary Committee found that third-party groups received a half billion dollars from settlements in the past 20 months. Our Founding Fathers created checks and balances to make sure one branch of our government cannot serve its special interests to the detriment of the American people. One of these checks is the Congressional “power of the purse” to decide how federal funds are spent. When the executive branch distributes money without Congressional approval, it circumvents these checks. That’s why I voted for H.R. 5063, and I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.
WASPs Laid to Rest at Arlington National Cemetery
During World War II, Sweetwater, Texas was home to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) training facility. These outstanding women contributed to the war effort in some incredible ways, including flying planes that towed targets for other pilots to practice shooting at and testing newly repaired military aircraft. At the time of their service, they were not considered military personnel. That changed in 1977 when WASPs received retroactive status as veterans, which enabled them to have their ashes interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Unfortunately, Army officials decided to revoke that privilege last year. In response, Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, H.R. 4336, the WASP Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act in May of this year; I was pleased to vote for this bill.
Last week, Elaine Harmon became the first WASP laid to rest in Arlington since we changed the law. Texas 19 was proud to be home to the WASPs during their service, and I have been proud to continue to fight for these wonderful veterans after their service.
Remembering the Heroes of September 11, 2001
Yesterday marked 15 years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. The resulting loss of life in the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, the partial demolition of the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania are still deeply felt across our great nation. Each year on September 11, I reflect on the heroism of Americans. Our heroes have countless stories, ranging from the first responders in New York City, Washington, DC, and those who traveled across the country to help, to the passengers of Flight 93, and to the office workers who helped their colleagues evacuate. Many of these selfless heroes lost their lives that day, and their stories are the ones we pass on to future generations who were either not yet born or were not old enough to remember September 11.
Another thing I think about on September 11 is how much our world has changed since then. National security is no longer something Americans only think about once in a while. Now, national security is something we have to work on every day. We must maintain our resolve to protect our country and leave our children and grandchildren a safer world.Read More
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) released the following statement today mourning the passing of Phyllis Schlafly:
“Dana and I send our sincere condolences to the Schlafly family. It was an honor to have known and been able to work with Phyllis for many years. Her contributions to conservative principles will never be forgotten. A true pioneer of the grassroots movement, she was a tireless advocate for the pro-life community, and she was unabashed about proclaiming the importance of the family. She will be missed.”
1424 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Randy Neugebauer proudly represents the 19th Congressional District of Texas, which stretches across 29 counties. He has offices in the cities of Abilene, Big Spring and Lubbock.
As one of the most conservative Members of Congress, Randy works to keep Washington accountable to hardworking American taxpayers by requiring commonsense spending and borrowing limits.
Randy was raised in West Texas, and he is a voice for traditional Texan values in Washington. Randy graduated from Texas Tech in 1972 with a degree in accounting. He went on to work in real estate management, eventually starting his own land development company.
As a small business owner, Randy knows first-hand the dedication and commitment it takes to own and manage a successful company. He also knows how government regulations can quickly deplete the resources of a small business, causing hard times for families and communities. Randy brings this businessman’s perspective to Congress where he advocates for reduced spending, fiscal discipline, free markets, and limited government.
Randy serves on three committees in the House of Representatives, where he can work on legislation that directly benefits his constituents. He is a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Additionally, he serves as the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance.
As Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Chairman, he’s working to reform the housing market, cut regulatory burdens, and shift risk away from American taxpayers and back into the private sector.
Randy’s legislative initiatives include eliminating wasteful federal spending, improving crop insurance, and supporting diverse domestic energy sources. He continues to work on legislation that will empower the constituents of the 19th Congressional District.
Randy’s support of conservative principles has been recognized by many groups and organizations. He has received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award, the Club for Growth Defender of Economic Freedom Award, and the Taxpayer’s Friend Award from the National Taxpayers Union. He has earned a 100% lifetime rating by National Right to Life. He has been recognized by National Journal as one of the six most conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, Randy serves as an Assistant Republican Whip to House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Randy is married to his high school sweetheart, Dana, who is a Ropesville native. Together they have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and are the proud grandparents of three boys and one girl.
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Court says multi-member structure "helps to prevent arbitrary decision making and thereby to protect individual liberty." #CFPB ->commission
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It’s been one year since the tragic C-130J crash that claimed 6 Airmen & 5 civilians. Join me in remembering them https://t.co/G0cBy0GXyB
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The Hyde Amendment (first enacted 40 yrs ago today) prevents federal tax $ from funding abortion. We must protect o… https://t.co/0BbDMZhA3e
Last week, a federal court ruled the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) structure was unconstitutional. Over a year ago, I introduced
Today marks one year since the tragic C-130J crash that claimed the lives of six Airmen and five civilians. We continue to mourn their loss.
The Hyde Amendment (first enacted 40 years ago today) prevents federal tax dollars from funding abortion. We must protect our unborn.
My last time questioning a Federal Reserve Chair. See my opening statement https://randy.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/neugebauer-opening-statement-financial-services-hearing-chair-yellen
It is always an honor and a privilege to welcome the South Plains Honor Flight to the United States Capitol. Today I was blessed to visit with