Whose side are they on? House members vote to protect payday lenders
A majority in the U.S. House of Representatives once again sided with America’s payday lenders, voting to strip the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—American consumers’ watchdog—of the authority to regulate this industry. The vote came Thurs., Sept. 14 during the debate over the Financial Services and General Government bill, which funds some basic functions of the federal government, including the Treasury Department.
Payday lenders’ supporters in Congress had slipped language into the bill that would prohibit the CFPB from writing new rules governing the industry or enforcing existing law. The CFPB is expected to release a new rule with protections for payday loan borrowers soon, and the House bill language would put a stop to these protections as well as the CFPB’s ability to hold payday lenders accountable in spite of the fact that 70% of voters including 70% of payday borrowers want to see more regulation of the industry.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) introduced an amendment to take this language out of the appropriations bill and continue to allow the CFPB to regulate payday lenders as it regulates other financial services businesses. The amendment failed by a vote of 221-186, with 26 abstentions. Seven members of Indiana’s delegation voted against the amendment.
“Many Hoosier families have gone to the CFPB with their concerns and complaints about the industry. It is disappointing to see our lawmakers siding with the lenders over Hoosier consumers,” said Erin Macey, policy analyst with Indiana Institute for Working Families and member of the Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network policy committee.
The typical interest rate of a payday loan in Indiana is 382 percent APR, and payday lenders make 75 percent of their profits off of consumers who take out more than ten loans a year. Because these lenders can collect directly from a borrower’s bank account on payday, they can remain profitable even when borrowers cannot afford to repay the loans without defaulting on other financial obligations. Nationally, payday lenders drain $8 billion in fees from our economy every year – an estimated $70 million which comes from Indiana.
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