This week in Washington, a U.S. court of appeals issued a ruling that aims to protect the leader of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from “the ebb and flow of politics.” Plus the Trump administration pledges additional support for infrastructure improvements and House Speaker Ryan proposes a plan for workforce development, perceived by some as a veiled attempt at welfare reform.
CFPB Director Not Political
A U.S. court of appeals has ruled that the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can only be fired for “neglect or wrongdoing,” Bloomberg reports. The CFPB, created under the Dodd-Frank Act after the 2008 recession, was designed to protect consumers from the likes of payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial services providers widely considered to be aggressive. Republicans have often criticized the agency for lack of oversight; the agency’s current director, Mick Mulvaney, repeatedly criticized the agency as “rogue” during his time in the House of Representatives.
The ruling—the outcome of a lawsuit originally targeting the CFPB under its previous director, Democrat Richard Cordray—establishes a level of insulation intended to “protect the bureau from the ebb and flow of politics” that was intended by Congress, according to the court. It is highly likely that the decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court.
More on Infrastructure
Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council and an adviser to President Trump, sat down on Friday with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and other GOP leaders to address members of Congress at the Republican congressional retreat about infrastructure, Axios reports. Cohn said that the administration plans to increase funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, a program that provides credit assistance for qualified infrastructure projects.
Cohn also said that the administration plans to give more funds to governors for rural projects and to create incentives “for states to have infrastructure revenue sources that are sustainable.”
A discussion about raising the gas tax was met with respectful disagreement from meeting participants. Republican sources say a gas tax increase is unlikely because it could be perceived as a tax hike on the middle class.
Cohn said that the administration plans to increase funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, a program that provides credit assistance for qualified infrastructure projects.
Ryan Proposes Workforce Development Plan (aka Welfare Reform?)
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is pushing to address “workforce development,” a somewhat coded message for welfare reform, according to Politico, which reported a positive reaction to the idea from House Freedom Caucus Chair Mike Meadows.
“It’s all about trying to find a workforce. I think yesterday, they said 6.6 million people on unemployment and 5.8 million jobs that could be filled, so … that ‘workforce’ development is trying to move those from unemployment into work, and that’s what it was designed to do,” said Meadows, a North Carolina Republican.
Any welfare reform is likely to receive significant pushback from Democrats, and it would be very hard to push through the Senate—especially if it is tied to work requirements for welfare beneficiaries, a condition that Ryan’s plan is rumored to have.
Ben Marsico is ACG Global’s manager of legislative and regulatory affairs.