Postings

A terrible agenda for students and taxpayers
86 organizations working on behalf of students, veterans, servicemembers, civil rights, consumers, faculty and staff, and college access, including Consumer Action, wrote to Congress to convey their strong opposition to provisions that roll back or eliminate existing guardrails relating to program integrity and consumer protections in higher education in the PROSPER Act (H.R.4508).

Border wall funding is a waste of taxpayer dollars
Funding for a border wall has faced strong opposition from a diverse coalition of organizations that include Latino, civil rights, consumer, environmental, faith and border community groups. The coalition has spent months advocating against the militarization of the border and the vilification of border and immigrant communities. As Congress moves forward with the FY2019 appropriations process, we urge leadership to reject efforts to continue funding additional border wall construction that draws scarce resources away from urgently needed infrastructure.

Last-ditch effort to prevent auto lending discrimination fails
Consumer Action and its allies wrote to Congress on April 16 to plead that it not interfere with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s efforts to prevent auto loan discrimination. The Bureau’s “guidance” to car lenders sought to end a common discriminatory practice to charge some borrowers more in interest and fees, regardless of their creditworthiness (“dealer mark-ups”). Even though these discriminatory violations still occur, the Senate on April 18 moved to eliminate the 2013 guidance document, allowing the practice to continue. These discretionary auto dealer mark-ups result, in some cases, in African Americans and Latinos paying more than similarly situated white borrowers.

Advocates alarmed as HUD considers dropping key mission
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), responsible for stopping housing discrimination, proposed new language in its mission statement that seemed to encourage consumer “self-sufficiency” over strict enforcement. The move alarmed civil rights, consumer, and fair housing advocates, who worry that the government agency expressly responsible for combating housing discrimination would deemphasize the importance of its mandate under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The groups joined in a March 8 letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson asking him to correct this “unfortunate impression.” (It’s been reported that Carson subsequently responded in a HUD memo, saying: “The notion that any new mission statement would reflect a lack of commitment to fair housing is nonsense.”)

10 years after Great Recession, Senate considers Dodd-Frank rollbacks
Crapo (R-ID) introduced a bill that takes aim at Dodd-Frank Act protections for consumers and the ability to monitor big banks to prevent another financial meltdown. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S 2155) would put consumers at greater risk of predatory lending and weaken other important safeguards passed since the last crisis. Consumer Action joined advocates in a March 8 letter asked that the legislation be given full floor consideration as a separate bill and an open amendment process.

Stringent safety requirements needed before driverless cars hit the road
In a March 5 letter to Senate leadership, coalition advocates conveyed strong objections to the lack of safety protections in proposed driverless car legislation and urged Senate leaders to make essential improvements to the AV START Act (S.1885). The groups warned that prioritizing the protection of private investments in unproven technologies instead of protecting public safety could have dangerous consequences, and there are numerous critical concerns regarding the rushed deployment of driverless cars. (Last week the earlier warning took on new urgency when an automated Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona.)

PROSPER Act puts for-profit schools’ interests ahead of students and taxpayers
In a Feb. 23 letter to Congress, Consumer Action and its allies working for fairness for student borrowers reiterated support for higher-education safeguards, including the gainful employment rule to ensure for-profit schools actually prepare students for real jobs; the borrower defense rule to protect student borrowers when their schools go bust; the 90-10 rule limiting the number of students using the GI Bill at specific schools; and the ban on incentive compensation, commissions for-profit school recruiters who often cross ethical lines when signing up students. These four commonsense regulatory measures—which Consumer Action supports and has written much about—should be present in any bill that targets higher education in the future. However, the groups note in their letter that the PROSPER Act (HR 4508) seeks to weaken or gut these protections, leaving students and taxpayers susceptible to for-profit school fraud.

SAFE Lending Act protects working families from cycle of debt
In an effort to end predatory lending practices, both online and offline, that are leaving many Americans trapped in a cycle of debt, Consumer Action and advocates support and encourage U.S. senators to co-sponsor the Stopping Abuse and Fraud in Electronic, or SAFE, Lending Act (S. 2760). Introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the bill aims to curb predatory lending practices and promote financial stability among working families.

Congress to gut key provision of Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that affirms and protects the civil rights of disabled people. A new bill, The ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620), introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), would make it harder for people with disabilities to hold businesses accountable for inaccessibility. The proposed legislation was recently adopted in the House Judiciary Committee and specifically takes on a section of the ADA that gives disabled people the right to sue public businesses (including restaurants, hotels, and movie theaters) that don’t comply with the ADA’s accessibility requirements.

Policy riders are a shady attempt at regulating CFPB
Friends of Wall Street and the banking industry in Congress want to remove the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from under the Federal Reserve System where it is currently housed and funded. Instead, they want to relegate it to the appropriations process in hopes of sabotaging its independence—a key element in overseeing the consumer finance markets.

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