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Maxine Waters Is Risking Her Career And Taking On Trump’s White House To Protect You

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Maxine Waters is one of my heroes. In an age when it seems that American politics is in a permanent state of turmoil, she is a constant. She can be relied upon to provide wisdom even in the bleakest of times. And now, ever since the Democrats retook control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections back in November of last year, Waters stands to gain a significant amount of power and take up a senior position in the House where she can do a huge amount of good. And she is not wasting any time gettin stuck in. Vox reports:

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has a long list of items on her agenda as the head of a House committee charged with overseeing the banking industry and economy.

Whether it’s bringing in Wells Fargo representatives for questioning, finding out what Mick Mulvaney did at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or creating a subcommittee on discrimination to make sure the playing field is level, she’ll have a lot of power from her new vantage point as chair of the House Financial Services Committee.

“We will be doing all of the work that needs to be done,” Waters said in a recent interview. As chair, she’ll have a big role in oversight. She’ll be able to call in heads of agencies and financial services companies to testify before the committee, request documentation, and issue subpoenas.

Consumer protection isn’t the sexiest of issues, but it’s one that affects literally everyone’s life — from credit cards to mortgages to student loans. And this administration has demonstrated a clear industry bent, watering down rules that would curtail predatory payday lenders, dismantling financial protections for the military, and taking an overall more pro-Wall Street stance. Waters may be able to use the spotlight on her to draw attention to that.

Waters plans to meet with Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan to “see what he has to say about the abuses that have been documented,” assuming he “knows where the bodies are buried.” In her letter to colleagues, she also called out Equifax, the credit reporting firm that compromised the personal data of some 150 million people in 2017.

Waters has proposed legislation related to both — she introduced the Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act and the Megabank Accountability and Consequences Act last Congress.

Another regulator Waters could target: Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who supervises and regulates national banks. He is currently involved in an overhaul of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a 1977 law meant to encourage banks to meet the credit needs of all communities, including low- and middle-income areas. Democrats have expressed concerns that efforts to modernize the CRA will make it easier for lenders to use discriminatory practices, especially after Otting said in June during a House Financial Services Committee hearing that he had “never personally observed” discrimination.

Waters has said she supports efforts to “reform” the CRA’s regulatory framework but expressed “great concern” about what she sees as the OCC’s decision to “relax its enforcement” of the CRA.

She will have the opportunity to press Otting for more details on his plans. “We would expect there to be some questions in terms of are the proposed changes to the CRA consistent with the purpose of the CRA, and, if not, why are we going in these directions?” Yana Miles, who was then senior legislative counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, said in a December interview. On Thursday, she started as senior counsel for the House Financial Services Committee.

And the more time regulators have to spend preparing for hearings or documentation to send to Congress, the less time they have for their other work — in other words, in just asking for information, Waters will be able to slow down the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda.

She will also be able to signal values and push oversight in other ways, like with the subcommittees she creates. On that front, she plans to put together a subcommittee on diversity and inclusion, which will be formally established when committee rules are established in the new Congress.

“We believe that not only are we going to be able to define very clearly for everybody where there is discrimination but also have recommendations and try to work with all of the entities that are involved to eliminate it,” Waters said.

Go, Maxine! We are right behind you!


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