Washington Update – June 26, 2017

Washington Update – June 26, 2017

This is the latest update from Washington, designed to keep NACBA members informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks.  Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com

On The Hill On June 8 the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law held a hearing titled “A Time to Reform: Oversight of the Activities of the Justice Department’s Civil, Tax and Environment and Natural Resources Divisions and the U.S. Trustee Program”. The hearing hear testimony from two witness panels. The first witness panel included: Clifford White III, Director of the U.S. Trustee Program, David Hubbert, Acting Assistant Attorney General Tax Division, Jeffrey Wood, Acting Assistant Attorney General Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Chad Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Division. The second witness panel included President of Public Citizen Robert Weissman, Esq., Partner of Baker & Hostetler LLP Andrew Grossman, Esq., Partner of Foley and Lardner LLP Cleta Mitchell, Esq., and Manager of Election Law Reform Initiative, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation Hans von Spakovsky, Esq. In his testimony, Director Clifford White provided the Subcommittee an update on the facts and observations of the Trustee Program and highlighted matters of special importance to the bankruptcy system. Members of NACBA’s Legislative Committee submitted questions to the Subcommittee at the request of the House Judiciary Committee.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced the Military Consumer Enforcement Act, S. 1389, on June 21st. The bill would allow the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to provide greater protection to servicemembers.The bill’s other co-sponsors include: Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL.), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV).

IN THE AGENCIES On Tuesday, June 20th U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appointed A. Wayne Johnson, a former executive in the financial-services industry, to run the $1.3 trillion federal student loan portfolio. The position of chief operating officer of federal student aid has been vacant since May when James W. Runcie resigned, saying he couldn’t in “good conscience” lead the agency while it was facing rising scrutiny from the Trump administration about its management of the lending programs. Dr. Johnson worked in senior management at Visa and Deloitte before starting his own company, which captures credit-card transactions in real time and alerts card holders to better manage their accounts.

FROM THE INTEREST GROUPS Americans for Financial Reform and National Consumer Law Center issued separate statements on June 14th that condemns the decision of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to abandon the victims of predatory colleges by delaying the update to the Borrower Defense rule, and creating two new negotiated rulemakings to re-do and likely dismantle both the Borrower Defense and Gainful Employment rules.

OTHER A recent Consumer Report analysis found the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be a major reason for the decline in personal bankruptcy filings. The report reveals that since 2010, personal bankruptcy filings have dropped by about 50%. Experts say some of that is due to an improved economy and laws passed in 2005 that make it harder to declare bankruptcy. CR’s reporting found that the ACA’s provisions for mandatory coverage of pre-existing conditions and against annual and lifetime payout caps has helped consumers —especially Americans with serious medical issues— avoid bankruptcy.

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