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The Huffington Post

Dodd: Put CFPA Inside Federal Reserve

Ryan Grim

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd listens to a testimony at the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in this July 23, 2009 file photo. (REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files)

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) reached out to fellow members of his
Banking Committee on Monday to float the latest proposal for a
compromise Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would be housed
within the Federal Reserve, committee aides said Monday, confirming
reports in the Washington Post and Politico.

Dodd and the White House have been signaling for some time that they
were less concerned with whether the agency was independent than with
its structure and funding stream. Without independent funding, it would
be at the whim of lawmakers who might want to block its mission.

The new proposal from Dodd, who is retiring at the end of this year,
would grant the agency independent funding and a
presidentially-appointed director, another priority for consumer
advocates. But it would not give the agency, according to the Post,
authority to enforce those rules. The Federal Reserve has had consumer
protection laws on its books for years, but consciously elected not to
enforce them before the financial crisis.

The White House has said that the CFPA is a top priority. Dodd is
negotiating with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top-ranking
Republican on the committee, and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a more
junior member but one who has said he's willing to be the sixtieth vote
for financial regulatory reform.

Shelby is a fierce Fed critic, but an even stronger opponent of the
CFPA. A final bill is expected from Dodd later this week or next, with
a committee vote to follow. An earlier Dodd proposal would have housed the CFPA in the Treasury Department.

Consumer advocates, along with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, are urging Dodd not to give up just yet, but to fight for a strong CFPA and force the Republicans to go on record against it.

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