Senate Appropriations Committee votes to “require” CFPB briefings

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On July 25, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved report language for the FY 2014 financial services appropriations bill that “directs the Bureau to provide an informal, non-public full briefing, at least annually, before the relevant Appropriations subcommittee on the Bureau’s finances and expenditures.” The language was authored by Republican Senator Susan Collins and all Democratic Committee members other than Senators Tim Johnson and Tom Harkin voted for the language.

The Committee’s action appears to reflect reports that Director Cordray, in connection with the negotiations that resulted in his confirmation, had agreed to appear before the Committee to discuss the CFPB’s budget.

While report language serves as guidance to an agency, it does not have the legal force of a statutory amendment. In addition, as the report language acknowledges, the CFPB “is funded independently of the annual appropriations spending bills.” Dodd-Frank provided for automatic funding of the CFPB through transfers from the Fed that, beginning for FY 2013, are capped at 12% of the Fed’s total 2009 operating expenses (approximately $597.6 million), subject to annual adjustments.