Waters, Walz, and Heck Introduce Bill to Protect Servicemembers from Predatory Financial Practices
WASHINGTON -- Today, House Democrats, led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, alongside Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA), Financial Services Committee Member, introduced legislation that would protect the financial wellbeing of servicemembers and their families by strengthening enforcement of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The bill, H.R. 3357, the Military Consumer Protection Act, directs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Consumer Bureau) to oversee and enforce compliance with certain existing provisions of the SCRA, which was found by Government Accountability Office to be weakly enforced by prudential regulators. The introduction of H.R. 3357 follows the release of a Financial Services Committee Democratic Staff Report, which highlights the numerous successes of Consumer Bureau and discusses the importance of its rule banning forced arbitration.
“We could never adequately pay back the men and women who have committed their lives to protecting our rights and our freedoms, but the Military Consumer Protection Act will make sure they’re protected from predatory financial institutions,” said Ranking Member Waters. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proven to be a tough and independent watchdog that all consumers, including servicemembers, can count on. We must ensure that they are fully equipped to continue fighting for hardworking American servicemembers.”
“Unfortunately, time and time again our servicemembers and veterans are unfairly targeted by bad actors in the financial services industry,” said Ranking Member Walz. “By empowering the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to oversee and enforce compliance with existing provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, we will take a step forward in curbing the predatory actions of bad actors in the financial services industry. I applaud Congresswoman Waters for her tireless dedication to protecting our nation’s veterans from financial exploitation.”
“As the representative of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I know our servicemembers who are deployed or serving here at home are focused on the huge responsibility of keeping us safe and defending our freedoms,” said Congressman Heck. “Their minds should not be burdened with financial woes. In six short years, the Consumer Bureau has proven itself to be an indispensable advocate for military families, and it is past time to formalize that role by giving them the power to enforce our most important law protecting military families from financial harms such as predatory lending, evictions or unreasonable consumer debts.”
Original cosponsors of the Military Consumer Protection Act include Representatives Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Al Green (D-TX), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX). Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
The bill is also supported by a number of organizations, including, National Military Family Association, Military Officers Association of America, Veterans Education Success, Student Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Consumer Federation of America, Americans for Financial Reform, Public Citizen, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, U.S. PIRG, Consumers Union, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income clients), National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Center for Popular Democracy, Alliance for Justice, American Association for Justice, and Center for Responsible Lending.