The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created by the Dodd-Frank Act as an independent agency within the Federal Reserve System, with the purpose of regulating consumer financial products. The core mission of the CFPB, protecting consumers from bad actors, is important, but we should all be concerned about the unconstitutional structure of the Bureau.
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations recently held a hearing to examine the structure of the CFPB. As vice chairman of this subcommittee, I had the opportunity to speak with our panel of witnesses about the ways that the CFPB is wholly unaccountable to Congress.
In October of 2016, a federal court found the CFPB’s structure to be unconstitutional. The Bureau’s appeal of this ruling is ongoing; but separate from the legal battle, Congress has a duty to evaluate the structure of the CFPB, protect the separation of powers between our three branches of government, and protect consumers from harmful federal overreach.
One of the biggest problems with the CFPB is that it does not rely on any appropriations from Congress to fund its operations. Instead, the Bureau funds itself by drawing its operating expenses from the Federal Reserve, and Congress is expressly prohibited from reviewing the Bureau’s use of its operating funds. What’s more, the Federal Reserve itself is not subject to congressional appropriations – meaning the CFPB is entirely outside the House’s power of the purse.
The power of the purse is the legislative branch’s most powerful check on the executive branch. It should bother all Americans that within the CFPB, unelected Washington bureaucrats can operate without any accountability to Congress.
Another problem with the CFPB is outlined in the decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Oct. 11, 2016. The opinion stated, “Because the CFPB is an independent agency headed by a single Director and not by a multi-member commission, the Director of the CFPB possesses more unilateral authority – that is, authority to take action on one’s own, subject to no check – than any single commissioner or board member in any other independent agency in the U.S. Government. Indeed … the Director enjoys more unilateral authority than any other officer in any of the three branches of the U.S. Government, other than the President.”
That’s right, the CFPB Director has more unilateral authority than any other officer in any of the three branches of the federal government (other than the President). I think most people would be shocked to hear this.
Additionally, the Dodd-Frank Act mandates that courts give extra deference to the CFPB’s interpretation of laws, which reduces the power of the judicial branch to defend the Constitution.
During the Financial Services hearing I asked Ted Olson, former Solicitor General and Assistant Attorney General within the U.S. Department of Justice, about the dangers of allowing a federal entity to have autonomy from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.
Mr. Olson said, “The framers of our Constitution vested the power to create laws in Congress, to enforce laws in the president, and to adjudicate whether those laws have been violated in the Judiciary. The framers of the Constitution felt very strongly that if you accumulated all those powers – the powers to create laws, to enforce laws, and to adjudicate laws – in a single institution, that would be the very definition of tyranny.”
In order to protect consumers, we must protect the separation of powers, which is the bedrock of a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people. This will require fixing the current law to ensure the CFPB is subject to the same checks and balances as other federal agencies.Read More
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) has requested that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the House Appropriations Committee prioritize the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program in fiscal year 2018.
In letters to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and leaders of the House Appropriations Committee, Tipton and several of his House colleagues wrote, in part:
“PILT is supported by a wide bipartisan coalition, and provides critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states to offset lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt federal lands within their jurisdictions. These dollars go toward supporting many critical services that counties are required to provide on federal public lands, despite their inability to collect property taxes on federal lands.
“Without the certainty of full PILT funding for FY 2018, we risk severely crippling counties’ ability to provide essential services for tourists and residents such as law enforcement, search and rescue, education, road maintenance and public health.”
During a recent hearing held by House Natural Resource Subcommittee on Federal Lands, Tipton spoke about the importance of the PILT program and asked Commissioner Gordon Cruickshank of Valley County, Idaho, to discuss the impact that adjustments to the PILT formula would have on counties that are predominately made up of federally-owned land.
Tipton said, “In my district we have Hinsdale County, which is approximately 96 percent federally-owned land that is out of the tax base. I hear there and elsewhere about the importance of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, program and what it means to the budget of our counties.”
Watch Tipton’s exchange with Commissioner Cruikshank here.
At some point in the next year, Congress will consider legislation to address the needs of America’s infrastructure. In the Natural Resources Committee, we will be considering the ways that this infrastructure bill could help federal land management agencies restore access to public lands and support sound management practices.
I recently had the opportunity to chair an oversight hearing of the Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee focused on innovative infrastructure ideas for the National Park Service and Forest Service. The Forest Service has a maintenance backlog of about $6 billion, and the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog is almost $12 billion. With our national debt now over $20 trillion, we will not be able to rely solely on additional appropriations to fill the backlogs or resolve other problems that both the Forest Service and National Park Service face.
The first step in tackling the massive maintenance backlog will be for land management agencies to put more resources towards taking care of what they already own, instead of pushing for more land acquisitions. Over the past ten years, the footprint of the National Park Service has continued to grow, while the maintenance needs in existing parks have been delayed.
During the Natural Resources Committee hearing, I had a chance to ask Mr. Reed Watson, Executive Director of the Property and Environment Research Center, about the importance of allowing National Park and Forest managers to retain the user fees they collect in order to address infrastructure needs, as well as set their own entrance fee schedules.
While giving park managers more flexibility to put user fees towards maintenance projects could be part of the solution, Congress and the Park Service will undoubtedly have to spend several years dedicating more resources towards maintaining and restoring existing park facilities rather than expanding the system.
It will also be critical for Congress to work with land management agencies and local stakeholders to maximize taxpayer dollars and create efficiency within federal processes.
During the hearing I also asked Commissioner Gordon Cruickshank from Valley County, Idaho, about the way his county has worked with the Forest Service to maximize taxpayer dollars on infrastructure projects.
The Forest Service had approached Valley County with $350,000 to replace two bridges. The County entered into an agreement to replace the two bridges utilizing Forest Service design and engineering and the county’s bidding process and county road crews. Commissioner Cruickshank said that by working together, Valley County and the Forest Service were able to replace both of the bridges in the infrastructure plan and three additional bridges on the Payette National Forest. Each of the five bridge projects occurred in salmon and steelhead habitat areas, and the collaboration between the local and federal government led to improved infrastructure and the preservation of sensitive habitat.
Collaboration and innovative partnerships will play an important role in making taxpayer dollars go further for federal land management agencies, but we also need to be serious about maintaining and restoring the infrastructure we already have. I think that many people would be surprised to hear that some of our national treasures, like Yellowstone National Park, have hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance. In order to keep these lands open and accessible to the public, we need to take care of them.Read More
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) voted for two bills that reform the hiring process within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bills, the VA Accountability First Act (H.R. 1259), and H.R. 1367, a measure to improve the VA Secretary’s authority to retain physicians and other VA employees, will help ensure Colorado’s veterans receive quality care at VA facilities.
“In order to ensure our veterans receive the best care possible, the VA must have the ability to streamline the employment process and retain care providers. Hiring top notch medical professionals is critical, but it can be a challenge to retain physicians in rural communities. With the ability to better retain the doctors, nurses and technicians that make quality healthcare possible, the VA will be able to make further progress toward providing veterans in rural communities with quality care options,” said Tipton.
H.R. 1367 establishes programs within the VA to recruit and retain highly qualified professionals. It also requires the VA to collect effective hiring information that will improve retention methods.
H.R. 1259 grants the Secretary of the VA more flexibility in managing the process for the removal, demotion, or suspension of any VA employee for performance or misconduct. Additionally, the bill allows the Secretary to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses for employees who fail to meet employment standards. Currently it can take up to a year to remove a poorly performing employee at the VA.
“Giving the VA more tools to hire and retain quality health care professionals and allowing the VA Secretary to address personnel matters quickly are important steps in our journey towards a more effective and efficient VA,” Tipton added.
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) issued the following statement after the Administration released its discretionary budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018:
“Our country is at a critical junction. With our national debt now over $20 trillion, the federal government cannot continue to spend money it doesn’t have. It is now more important than ever that we focus federal resources on keeping our country safe through defense and diplomacy, invest in programs that deliver results for Americans on Main Street and grow the economy, and ensure our social safety nets are put on a sustainable course for those who truly need them. I look forward to working through the budget and appropriations process to further our pathway towards fiscal responsibility.”
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) reintroduced the Native American Indian Education Act (H.R. 1528) in the 115th Congress on Wednesday. Tipton was joined by former U.S. Senator from Colorado Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Fort Lewis College President Dene Kay Thomas, and Fort Lewis College Director of Office Sponsored Research and Federal Relations Angela Rochat at the U.S. Capitol to mark the occasion.
President Dene Kay Thomas praised Tipton’s work on H.R. 1528.
Thomas said, “I very much appreciate Congressman Tipton’s understanding of and support of the Native American tuition waiver bill.”
H.R. 1528 would help Fort Lewis College and the State of Colorado cover tuition costs of qualifying Native American Indian students who receive federally-mandated free tuition at the college under a 1910 federal land grant. Fort Lewis College has seen a significant increase in the number of out-of-state Native American Indian enrollees in recent years, and the State of Colorado has been left to cover the tuition costs in full for these out-of-state students. H.R. 1528 authorizes the federal government to allocate the funding necessary to sustain the Native American Tuition Waiver Program at Fort Lewis College.
Tipton said, “It is vital that the federal government fully live up to our nation’s treaty obligations with Native American Indians. For years, the weight of an unfunded federal mandate to provide higher education opportunities for Native American Indian students has created uncertainty for the Native American Tuition Waiver Program at Fort Lewis College. This has put a constantly-increasing strain on the State of Colorado’s budget. Our legislation addresses this issue by authorizing the federal government to allocate funds to meet its treaty obligations and ensure that many talented and bright Native American Indian students have the opportunity to get a quality education.”
Twenty-five percent of Fort Lewis College’s student population is made up of Native Americans Indians representing 167 American Indian tribes and Native Alaskan villages.Read More
I recently had the opportunity to visit with over 5,220 constituents during a telephone town hall meeting. With one of the largest congressional districts in the country – 29 counties spanning nearly half the state of Colorado – I make a point to visit as many communities as I can throughout the year to hear from groups and hold public meetings. I typically hold my public meetings in the spring and summer months, which I will continue to do in the 115th Congress. In the winter and throughout the year, I use telephone town hall meetings as one platform for keeping in touch with constituents and sharing updates on my work.
I heard from constituents on a variety of topics during my hour-long telephone town hall, but the most frequently asked questions were about health care, regulations, and public lands.
Many families in Colorado are facing an average deductible of more than $6,000 under Obamacare, and in some cases their premiums have exceed their mortgage payments each month. I consistently hear from people that they can say they are insured, but they can’t afford to use their health insurance or find providers in their communities who will accept additional Medicare or Medicaid patients. This is unacceptable and unsustainable, and it is why I am working to repeal and replace Obamacare with a health care system that gives Coloradans and Americans in every corner of the country access to affordable health care services.
House Republicans recently released the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is the draft reconciliation bill that makes up the first part of our three-part strategy for repealing and replacing Obamacare. Reconciliation is an important tool for getting our health care system back on track, however, it has limitations on what changes can be made. Reconciliation prohibits provisions that have no budgetary effect, which is why there are a number of Obamacare provisions that are not addressed within the AHCA. These provisions will be addressed in the second and third pieces of our repeal and replace strategy.
The second part of the strategy involves HHS Secretary Tom Price using the administrative authority granted to him in the law to determine whether certain provisions need to continue to be enforced, as well as whether to repeal and, or replace additional rules and regulations. This process has already started.
The third and final part of our repeal and replace strategy will require Congress to pull from existing replacement proposals to develop a bill that addresses the components of Obamacare that will remain, following reconciliation and the actions taken by the HHS Secretary.
In its current form, the AHCA is not perfect, and I intend to continue to carefully review the details of this plan over the coming days and weeks. At this point, I have concerns about some of the provisions, but I am confident that we can work through an open amendment process and deliver a final product that takes a strong step in the right direction for Americans.
During the telephone town hall meeting I also heard from constituents who had questions about some of the resolutions Congress has passed to roll back the regulatory overreach of the Obama Administration.
Congress has a tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives the House and Senate the authority to consider resolutions of disapproval that would void regulations that have been finalized by the executive branch. So far this year, Congress has used the CRA to void two of the previous administration’s midnight regulations, and there are several other resolutions of disapproval that are in the process of being considered by the House and Senate.
One regulation that was voided was the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) stream buffer rule. Prior to proposing the rule, the DOI conducted its own investigative report, which showed that nearly all coal mines around the country have no off-site impacts. Yet, the department finalized 1,640-pages of mandates that would apply to every coal mine in the country. The rule would have had little environmental benefit, given the protections that are already in place under the Clean Water Act, and would have only served to regulate away good-paying jobs and our most reliable energy source in use today.
When it comes to public lands, I have and always will fight to protect Colorado’s pristine areas and cultural treasures. In 2014, I worked to designate over 70,000 acres of the San Juan National Forest as the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area, and I also carried legislation through the House to designate Chimney Rock as a national monument. Earlier this year, I joined my Colorado colleague, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, in introducing a bill that expands the boundary of the Arapaho National Forest.
If you are interested in listening to the complete telephone town hall, you can do so on my YouTube channel or by downloading the link from my recent press release: Tipton Talks Health Care, Regulations, and Public Lands During Telephone Town Hall.Read More
Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) has reintroduced the bipartisan Making Online Banking Initiation Legal and Easy (MOBILE) Act (H.R. 1457) in the 115th Congress to expand access to banking services for families in rural communities throughout Colorado and the United States.
“Today, most people are walking around with their own personal bank in their purse or pocket. The MOBILE Act allows our families to use smartphone technology to its fullest potential, while having the assurance that their private information is secure,” said Tipton.
The MOBILE Act would clarify existing law and solidify a uniform standard of compliance for banking services. Specifically, the bill ensures financial institutions can “swipe” the machine readable zone on state issued identification cards and record and store the information for the purposes of verifying the identity of a bank customer and preventing fraud or criminal activity.
“There are many families in rural communities across the country who are struggling to achieve financial security, because they can’t easily get to a bank to open checking or savings accounts. Smartphones can change this, but we need the MOBILE Act to catch our laws up to the technology,” Tipton added.
218 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Scott Tipton was raised in Cortez, Colorado. He graduated from Ft. Lewis College in Durango, where he studied Political Science and became the first person in his family to earn a college degree. After college, he returned home to Cortez and co-founded Mesa Verde Indian Pottery with his brother Joe. It was through his business that Scott met his wife, Jean, who is a former school teacher. The Tipton’s have two daughters, Liesl and Elizabeth, and two sons-in-law, Chris and Jace.
After a lifetime running his small business, Scott was elected as a Republican to the Colorado House of Representatives for the 58th District in November of 2008. During his time at the state House, he worked to ensure quality water for the people of Colorado and to improve the air quality of Southwest Colorado. He also sponsored legislation to protect children from the worst criminal offenders by mandating harsher penalties for child sex-offenders and allowing law enforcement to collect DNA evidence from suspects through Jessica’s Law and Katie’s Law.
Scott was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and again in 2012 for a second term.
In the 112th Congress, Scott pushed hard to advance a federal version of Katie’s Law to encourage additional states to implement minimum DNA collection standards and enhanced collection processes for felons in order to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to prevent violent crimes, and protect women and children. That effort became a reality when the President signed Katie’s Law on January 3, 2013.
Using his positions on the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Small Business Committees, Scott has is fighting for the issues that most directly impact Coloradans, many of which involve our state’s extensive open spaces and natural resources. In his first term, Scott introduced legislation to encourage healthy forest management and prevent wildfire, as well as passed a bill in the House with bipartisan support to advance the development of clean, renewable hydropower. He is also leading the charge in Congress to stop a federal grab of privately-held water rights, standing up for farmers and ranchers, the ski industry, and all who rely on their water rights to survive.
Scott is champion of advancing an all-of-the-above energy solution that balances common sense conservation with responsible development. He passed the Planning for American Energy Act through the House (as a title under the American Domestic Energy and Jobs Act) to put requirements into place to develop wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale and minerals, based on the needs of the American people.
Scott has used his experience as a small businessman to inform his work as a Subcommittee Chairman on the Small Business Committee. Here he has worked to protect farmers and ranchers from regulatory overreach, as well as push for expanded trade opportunities for Colorado products. Scott is a co-founder of the Congressional Small Business Caucus, a bipartisan caucus committed to open dialogue on the issues that most impact small businesses. Members of the Congressional Small Business Caucus are dedicated to advancing efforts to foster the economic certainty needed for small businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed and create jobs.
In the 113th Congress, Scott continues to represent the many interests of one of the most diverse and geographically vast districts in the nation. He will fight to bring Colorado common sense to Washington—focusing on reforming regulation, protecting Colorado’s natural environment, encouraging responsible all-of-the-above energy development, reducing government spending, and removing hurdles so that small businesses can do what they do best—create jobs.