CFPB on a Roll—Next Up: Abusive Debt Collection Practices

By Renato Rocha, Policy Analyst, Wealth-Building Initiative


Photo: Sean MacEntee

Having proposed a rule last month to protect consumers from the payday lending debt trap, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has its next target on the debt collection industry. With the passage of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) nearly 40 years ago, Congress set out to eliminate abusive debt collection practices. It held that unfair practices lead to personal bankruptcies, marital instability, job loss, and invasion of privacy. Not until the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, however, was a federal agency authorized to issue comprehensive regulations to implement the FDCPA. In an effort to protect and improve the financial well-being of consumers, the CFPB today outlined new debt collection rules.

Since the passage of the FDCPA, the debt collection industry has experienced dramatic growth. Currently, debt collection is a multibillion-dollar industry made up of a network of first- and third-party collectors, debt buyers, collection law firms, and millions of affected consumers. Approximately 70 million people (one in three consumers) has a debt in collection. Thousands of collection firms exist, generating about $14 billion in revenue.

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Weekly Washington Outlook — July 27, 2015

What to Watch This Week:



On Monday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 1138 – Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson / Natural Resources Committee)

2) H.R. 774 – Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Del. Madeleine Bordallo / Natural Resources Committee)

3) Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2499 – Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot / Small Business Committee) 

4) S. 1482 – Need-Based Educational Aid Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley / Judiciary Committee)

5) H.R. 1656 – Secret Service Improvements Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Judiciary Committee)

6) H.R. 2750 – Improved Security Vetting for Aviation Workers Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)

7) H.R. 2770 – Keeping Our Travelers Safe and Secure Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Rice / Homeland Security Committee)

8) H.R. 2843 – TSA PreCheck Expansion Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)

9) H.R. 2127 – Securing Expedited Screening Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson / Homeland Security Committee)

10) H.R. 1300 – First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Peter King / Homeland Security Committee)

11) H.R. 2206 – State Wide Interoperable Communications Enhancement Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Donald Payne / Homeland Security Committee)

12) H.R. 1634 – Border Security Technology Accountability Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally / Homeland Security Committee)

13) H.R. 998 – Preclearance Authorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan / Homeland Security Committee)

14) H.R. 1831 – Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

15) H. J. Res. 61 – Hire More Heroes Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis / Ways and Means Committee) 

16) H.R. 675 – Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Ralph Abraham / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

17) H.R. 1607 – Ruth Moore Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

The balance of the week, the House will consider the following:

H.R. 427 – Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Todd Young / Judiciary Committee)

H.R. 1944 – VA Accountability Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

It is possible the House will vote on the VA Budget and Choice Improvement Act and a Conference report to Accompany H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2016.


The Senate this week will continue its consideration of H.R. 22, the legislative vehicle for a six-year surface transportation reauthorization.

White House:

On Monday, President Obama will attend a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with the President of Uganda, the President of Kenya, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the Chairwoman of the African Union, and the Foreign Minister of Sudan. The purpose of the summit is primarily to discuss South Sudan and regional counter-terrorism issues.

On Tuesday, the president concludes his trip to Africa and returns to Washington.

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

Also This Week:

Immigration – Last week, the House passed H.R. 3009, legislation that would block certain funding streams to local law enforcement in so-called “sanctuary cities.” While several related bills have been filed or are in progress in the Senate, it is unlikely these will come for a vote this week. Instead, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will mark-up several bills related to border security, including the “Department of Homeland Security Border Metrics Review Act of 2015,” the “Northern Border Security Review Act of 2015,” and a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate “regarding the success of Operation Streamline and the importance of prosecuting first time illegal border crossers.”

Budget – On Tuesday, the House Budget Committee will examine overhauling the Congressional budgeting process. While legislation is not expected to come from the hearing, this is the first step in what Chairman Price (R-Ga.) has described as a multi-year process. Elsewhere, former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm will appear Tuesday before the Joint Economic Committee on dynamic scoring.

Health – Over the weekend, as part of consideration of its surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Senate took a procedural vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While this was the first time since Republicans gained the Majority in the Senate this has occurred, it nonetheless failed 49-43. Elsewhere, on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell will testify before the House Education and Workforce Committee on ACA implementation.

Financial Services – The House Financial Services Committee will continue its examination of the Dodd-Frank Act with a hearing Tuesday, “Dodd-Frank Five Years Later: Are We More Free?” Also on Tuesday, the House Financial Services Committee plans to mark-up fourteen bills related to housing, financial markets, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s authority. The full list is available here. Elsewhere, the Senate Banking Committee’s Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee will hold a hearing, “The Role of Bankruptcy Reform in Addressing Too Big to Fail.”

Education – The Senate HELP Committee continues its work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. This week, the Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on combatting sexual assault on college campuses.

Tax – After a weekend session, the Senate this week will attempt to conclude its work on a multi-year highway bill before a July 31 deadline to fund the Highway Trust Fund. The Senate is expected to vote Monday to attach a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, setting up a possible fight with the House over this provision. Further complicating passage, the House has already cleared a five-month patch and is unlikely to pass the Senate’s multi-year bill. For House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the short-term highway bill is a means to provide leverage at the end of the year for negotiations on expired tax credits and some permanent changes to tax policy. With the House recessing at the end of the week for five weeks, the precise path forward remains somewhat up in the air.

Weekly Washington Outlook — July 6, 2015


What to Watch This Week:



On Monday, the House is not in session.

On Tuesday, the House returns at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m. and the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 907 – United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen / Foreign Affairs Committee)

2) Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 91 – Veteran’s I.D. Card Act (Sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

3) H.R. 1531 – Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act (Sponsored by Rep. Gerry Connolly / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

Also Tuesday, the House will continue consideration of H.R. 2822 – Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Modified Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Ken Calvert / Appropriations Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will consider legislation subject to a rule:

  • Complete Consideration of R. 5 – Student Success Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. John Kline / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 2647 – Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman / Agriculture Committee / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 6 – 21st Century Cures Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • Possible Consideration of a Motion to Go to Conference on H.R. 644 – Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act


The Senate returns Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and will consider S. 1177 to reauthorize elementary and secondary school programs.

White House:

On Monday, the president will make a rare visit to the Pentagon to meet with his national security team on the U.S. fight against the Islamic State in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host the head of Vietnam’s Communist Party, the first party chief to visit the U.S. as the two countries seek closer ties 40 years after they fought a war.

Remainder of the week, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

Also This Week:

Appropriations – Both chambers continue work on FY16 spending bills, but the final passage of all twelve remains unlikely.  In the Senate, Democrats have vowed to block all measures upholding sequestration funding levels. While the House is resuming consideration of Interior-EPA appropriations this week, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s memo outlining the July work period only included the Financial Services Appropriations bill leaving a number of the more controversial bills still working through the Committee process up in the air.  This includes funding for the Department of Agriculture, scheduled for a mark-up at the subcommittee level on Tuesday and full committee on Thursday.

Education – This week both House and Senate are scheduled to take up legislation reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In the Senate, the “Every Child Achieves Act,” a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization, is slated for the floor beginning on Tuesday. The business and civil rights community is continuing to work to get support for strengthening the bill’s accountability system for minority students and English Learners.  Elsewhere, the House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to create a new rule allowing up to two additional amendments to the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) when it is brought back to the floor later this week.  The additional amendments are designed to garner conservative support to enable final passage.

Health – On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will examine “Medicaid at 50: Strengthening and Sustaining the Program.” This hearing comes in the wake of a July 24 deadline for Republicans to decide whether or not to use reconciliation to repeal the tax and spending components of the Affordable Care Act.

Immigration – The Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday titled “The 2014 Humanitarian Crisis at Our Border: A Review of the Government’s Response to Unaccompanied Minors One Year Later.”

Banking – As we approach the five-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Act, lawmakers are evaluating the effects to this legislation, starting with a Thursday House Financial Services Committee hearing “The Dodd-Frank Act Five Years Later: Are We More Stable?”  Also this week, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee is holding a Wednesday hearing on “The Role of the Financial Stability Board in the U.S. Regulatory Framework.” Also Wednesday, the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee will focus on “Examining the Designation and Regulation of Bank Holding Company SIFIs.”

Labor – Last week the Obama Administration released new regulations regarding overtime pay. The proposed rule would more than double the salary threshold for guaranteed overtime pay to $50,440, from the current threshold of $23,660. Today marks the start of the comment period, currently ending September 4. Labor advocates say the rule is long overdue, whereas business interests insist the rule will decrease worker hours, reduce worker benefits, and shift salaries workers to hourly ones.

Housing – This Thursday the House Judiciary Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The State of Property Rights in America Ten Years After Kelo v. City of New London.” Friday, the House Financial Services Housing and Insurance Subcommittee will examine “The Future of Housing in America: Oversight of HUD’s Public and Indian Housing Programs.”

Weekly Washington Outlook — June 8, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:



On Tuesday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 2088 – United States Grain Standards Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee)
  • R. 2051 – Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee)
  • R. 2394 – National Forest Foundation Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Glenn Thompson / Agriculture Committee)
  • R. 235 – Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 889 – Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot / Judiciary Committee)

The House will also consider H. Res. 295 – Supporting local law enforcement agencies in their continued work to serve our communities, and supporting their use of body worn cameras to promote transparency to protect both citizens and officers alike (Sponsored by Rep. Al Green / Judiciary Committee) and will complete consideration of H.R. 2577 – Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Modified Open Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart / Appropriations Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will vote on

  • R. 2393 – Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee)
  • R. 2685 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen / Appropriations Committee)

It is possible members will vote on H.R. 2596 – Intelligence Authorization Act of 2015 and legislation relating to trade.


The Senate will resume consideration this week of H.R.1735, Defense Authorization.

White House:

On Monday, the president will attend a G-7 meeting in Germany on energy and climate and a G-7 meeting with outreach guests on terrorism. Afterward, President Obama will participate in a family photo with outreach guests and attend a working lunch on development issues. In the afternoon, the president will hold a press conference before returning to Washington.

On Tuesday, President Obama will attend the Catholic Hospital Association Conference in Washington. The president will discuss what healthcare reform has meant to millions of Americans – not only in terms of improved and affordable coverage options for individuals, but in terms of new rights and protections for all consumers, rising quality of care, and the transformative impact on the economy as a whole.

On Wednesday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House and a DNC roundtable in Washington.

On Friday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

Also This Week:

Appropriations – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittees will mark-up their versions of spending bills for FY2016. The Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee will mark-up its bill on Wednesday and the full Committee will take up this legislation on Thursday.  Senate Democrats have vowed to vote against procedural motions on the floor for any appropriations bill that upholds sequestration spending levels. Elsewhere, the House will complete consideration of its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill and defense spending.

Education – After much speculation that the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) could be brought back to the floor this week, it is not currently on this week’s schedule despite its inclusion in Majority Leader McCarthy’s memo for this work period. Instead, all eyes remain on the Senate as members prepare to take up a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization.  There has been some discussion on the Hill that the timing for bringing this bill to the floor could slip to July or even the fall. However, the business and civil rights community is continuing to work to get support on both sides of the aisle for an amendment that would strengthen the accountability system in the bill.

Financial Services – The House will vote this week on a reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, H.R. 2289. The bill would limit the regulatory body’s ability to oversee overseas derivative trades and would modify other rules that stemmed from the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Policing – The House will vote this week on H. Res. 295, a non-binding resolution, that would encourage state and local law enforcement officers to use body-worn cameras.  The goal is to increase transparency and improve police-community relations. The resolution also recognizes the work of law enforcement officers in keeping communities safe nationwide.

Health – The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the implementation of the ACA and the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget request for FY2016. The Senate HELP Committee will also hold a hearing on Wednesday on health information strategies to improve patient care.  Elsewhere, in the wake of a King v. Burwell decision, work is ongoing on possible legislative solutions if the Supreme Court finds against the government. While Republican leadership seems to have coalesced around a proposal by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) put forward his own version today that would establish “individual health pools” for individuals and small employers.

Tax – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave an interview that was published over the weekend that made clear the Senate would not consider comprehensive tax reform this year. There have been rumors in recent weeks that a broad deal could be attached to must-pass legislation, like highway funding.

Labor – The Department of Labor could announce a long-awaited overtime rule this week that could double the salary level of workers able to claim time and a half payments. The not-yet-announced rule is already controversial with Republican lawmakers. The House Education and Workforce Committee has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday “Reviewing the Rules and Regulations Implementing Federal Wage and Hour Standards.”

Congress Wants You to Believe Dodd-Frank is the Problem. Don’t Fall For It.

By Nancy Wilberg Ricks, Senior Policy Strategist, NCLR

At a the National Journal event this week,  experts discussed the state of sustainable homeownership, housing finance reform, and potential solutions to systemic problems in housing. Reforming Fannie and Freddie is of critical importance to the Latino community, who will comprise half of the housing market by 2020—but we wonder why the National Journal is leading the discussion and Congress isn’t. These topics should be the central focus in Washington when it comes to improving the housing market. Instead, Congress is trumpeting this misinformed notion that Dodd-Frank is the cause of all our problems.

Dodd-Frank was the comprehensive legislation that was passed to prevent total economic collapse seven years ago. It stopped the bleeding and helped lay the foundation for a better economic system for consumers and honest dealers. To build on its successes, we must now direct our attention to how the secondary housing market is managed. That is, how do Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and thus taxpayers, avoid being left with all the liability and none of the benefits should another crisis rear its head?

Congress has attempted to take on housing finance reform in several iterations only to be stymied by gridlock. We know there is a way. In its joint report with the Center for American Progress, Making the Mortgage Market Safe for America’s Families, NCLR outlined a research-based roadmap to a broad, accessible, and affordable housing market. For example, there is a dire need for a fully funded Market Access Fund (MAF) to promote broader access to mortgage credit and to foster new and safe mortgage products as a way of increasing access. The MAF would also fully fund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF)—a state block grant program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, designed to increase and preserve the supply of rental housing for very and extremely low-income families. We finally saw advances in this department late last year when the FHFA announced plans to fund both the NHTF and the Capital Magnet Fund. This is just the beginning, though.

Along with adequate funding, a new housing finance system needs a robust regulatory mechanism to monitor for safety and soundness, consumer protection, and access and affordability. While national experts grasp the importance of an improved housing finance reform system, Congress continues to use Dodd-Frank as a scapegoat. They are wasting time and taxpayer dollars, while never getting to the real issue at hand.