From Collector: A Look Back at the 115th Congress
Activity during the last legislative session informs ACA International’s plan for future advocacy efforts.
1/4/2019 10:30 AM
With the recent conclusion of the 115th Congress, ACA International Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey provides an in-depth review of what Congress completed over the past two years, what it didn’t get done, and most importantly, where ACA should focus its advocacy efforts to better position the accounts receivable management industry in the 116th Congress in the December issue of Collector magazine.
Changes to the Dodd-Frank Act
The most significant package for the financial services industry signed into law in the 115th Congress was S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which was seen as the first Dodd-Frank Act reform bill.
The House version of this bill, H.R. 10, the Financial CHOICE Act, included many provisions that would have benefited the accounts receivable management industry. However, the Senate version was much more narrowly tailored, focusing mostly on rifle-shot changes that benefited community banks and credit unions. This legislation, while not ultimately a robust overhaul of the Dodd-Frank Act, was an important step in making the first dent in changing problematic provisions in the law, and proving there is an appetite for bipartisan fixes in areas where it is necessary.
Notably absent from S. 2155 was any change to the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, standalone legislation—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Accountability Act, S.387, the Consumer Financial Protection Board Act, S. 105, and The Financial Protection Safety Commission Act of 2018, H.R. 5266—included proposed changes to the leadership structure and funding process.
S. 387 amends the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 to change the source of funding for the CFPB from Federal Reserve System transfers to annual appropriations. ACA supports this because it adds checks and balances and allows consumers, through their elected officials, to have a voice in the direction of the bureau. It also adds transparency and accountability to the single-director structure, which currently answers to no one. S. 105 and H.R. 5266 would appoint a five-person commission to lead the CFPB.
Another piece of legislation making changes to bureau practices is the GUIDE Compliance Act, H.R. 5534. This bill would require the CFPB director to issue guidance that is necessary or appropriate to enable the CFPB to carry out federal consumer financial law, including facilitating compliance with such law.
As the bureau prepares to release its proposed Fair Debt Collection Practices Act rule, this legislation would be helpful in ensuring that those coming into compliance with any new rules have proper guidance and resources from the CFPB.
This legislation is likely to be reintroduced in the 116th Congress. ACA will be working closely with any potential new sponsors and supporters.
TCPA and Robocall Legislation
TCPA and robocall legislation also continues to be a prevalent issue on Capitol Hill. During the 115th Congress, we also saw several pieces of legislation attempting to tackle the issue of an increase in illegal robocalls, Dempsey reports. Unfortunately, the rhetoric on this issue in Congress swept legitimate business communications under the same umbrella as illegal or unwanted telemarketing calls far too often.
This struggle to get support from 60 senators stymied a lot of good legislative efforts from moving forward in the 115th Congress, even with Republicans in both chambers of Congress. Additionally, as a result of the switch of administration when President Donald Trump came into office, the Senate also spent a considerable amount of time considering nominations.
As we look ahead, we are hopeful that Congress will spend more time rolling up its sleeves and digging into some of these important pieces of legislation. ACA will be working with our members to encourage them to do so as well as looking for new advocacy opportunities in the New Year.
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