Mulvaney Could Soon Be Out as Acting Head of CFPB

When President Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney to serve as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the term had a six-month expiration date — a day that’s rapidly approaching.

Mulvaney can only serve until June 22, and the acting CFPB director recently had to remind the White House of that fact, according to a Tuesday report in the Washington Post. 

“I want to go back to OMB. I love it, OMB,” Mulvaney told the Post, referring to his other job as director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. “It is the job I always wanting in Washington, D.C., and I absolutely loved doing it.”

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The acting CFPB director still holds that job, which may become his full-time position again soon; the president has already met with a potential replacement, Mulvaney told the Post, though he did not name the person’s identity.

Any formal nominee for the position would have to go through a Senate confirmation process, leading some to speculate that the job could go to National Credit Union Administration chairman J. Mark McWatters, who was already approved by the body to serve in his current role. 

Should Mulvaney exit next week, it would bring to a close a tumultuous time at the consumer watchdog group. The departure of former director Richard Cordray — now the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor of Ohio — briefly threw the department into chaos, with both Mulvaney and CFPB director Leandra English claiming to be the rightful successor.

Mulvaney eventually consolidated control, taking various steps to restructure the department — most recently firing the entire Consumer Advisory Board and also declaring the end of “regulation by enforcement.”

Additionally, in recent months, Mulvaney has begun referring to the department as the “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection,” or BCFP, the way the bureau’s name is rendered in the original Dodd-Frank legislation that led to its creation. The reasoning, according to Mulvaney, is to underscore his move toward meeting the bureau’s legal requirements with no additional work or activism; similar actions included issuing a substantially slimmed-down semi-annual report to Congress and asking for no additional funding from the Federal Reserve.

“If your whole theme is going to be ‘We’re going to follow the statute,’ I thought it was a good, small way — but a very visible way — to send a message,” Mulvaney told the Post. 

The acting director’s moves have been met with resistance from Democrats who worry that he has de-fanged the CFPB’s regulatory powers. Leaders in New Jersey have explored launching their own state-level CFPB to fill the void left on the federal level, and just this week, former Ohio attorney general Marc Dann announced that he would host the controversial CFPB consumer complaint database on his own law firm’s website, in case current leadership elects to alter or remove it from its own government page.

Written by Alex Spanko