Republicans are launching another in a series of coordinated efforts to attack the legitimacy of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency created during the Obama administration to protect consumers from the excesses of Big Business that led to the Great Recession.
A group of 132 congressional Republicans filed an amicus brief this week urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court ruling that had found the mechanism for funding the bureau to be unconstitional.
Then there’s the 27-state coalition of Republican state AGs who have filed their own friend of the court brief this week urging the same.
This issue isn’t about the funding mechanism, obviously. It’s about what the CFPB does to combat fraud and abuse of consumers in the marketplace.
How you can tell that’s the case: the Republican state AG brief specifically requests the Supreme Court to send a message to Congress by zeroing out the bureau’s regulations on payday lending.
But that’s buried deep down in the list of arguments. The funding issue – the bureau draws money each year from U.S. Federal Reserve earnings rather than budgets passed by Congress – is almost certain to earn a constitutional smackdown from the Trump-packed Supreme Court.
On the flip side, the CFPB is not the only agency funded in this way. The Biden administration, in its own court brief, noted that Social Security and Medicare are paid for by mandatory spending, not annual appropriations.
Even the Federal Reserve is funded not by Congress, but by fees assessed on the banking sector.
That said, you can expect the Supreme Court to use the method of appropriations as political cover for doing the dirty work of the GOP and its business and corporate overlords.
“The appropriations power is crucial to our separation of powers and protecting States’ interests,” Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said, putting what he learned in constitutional-law class to good use.
“By operating outside of its prescribed methods of congressional oversight, this administrative agency casts the separation of powers to the wind and avoids any real accountability. The Court should uphold the Fifth Circuit’s ruling and allow Congress to fulfill their oversight duty,” Miyares said.