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 A vote in Senate on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration regulation is imminent. Republican leaders are considering whether to bring to the Senate floor a bill that would kill the arbitration regulation finalized by the CFPB this summer using a special legislative tool that allows them to avoid a Democratic filibuster if they act within 60 legislative days of implementation. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) are cosponsors of the legislation in the Senate. The debate comes three weeks after a public outcry compelled the Atlanta-based Equifax to quickly drop so-called forced arbitration language from the terms of service of the free credit monitoring service it was offering its customers after its massive data breach. The House of Representatives already passed a “resolution of disapproval” to revoke the CFPB’s arbitration rule. A total of 23 Senate Republicans filed a resolution at the end of July to rescind the CFPB rule. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, has promised to fight to keep the rule.
IN THE AGENCIES On September 14th, Clifford White, Director of the Executive Office of the U.S. Trustees addressed the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees at the 35th Annual Convention. He discussed topics that included chapter 7 trustees, guidance on natural disasters, marijuana assets, and stale debt claims—to name a few. Amongst things he noted for natural disaster guidelines were: the US Trustee Program (USTP) will not take enforcement action against debtors who are unable to file or produce documents required by the Code as a result of a natural disaster, if they otherwise are eligible for relief; USTP will not move to dismiss under the “means test” if income loss, increased expenses, or other consequences of a natural disaster constitute “special circumstances” sufficient to rebut the presumption of abuse; and even if conditions do not justify a United States Trustee granted statutory waiver of the credit counseling requirements for a district, USTP will exercise prosecutorial discretion in considering whether to take action to dismiss the case of a debtor who, as a result of a natural disaster, experiences difficulty in obtaining a credit counseling certificate or whose filing was delayed beyond the 180-day period following the debtor’s receipt of credit counseling.
The Federal Trade Commission launched a web page highlighting the work of the agency’s new Military Task Force, which is aimed at identifying the needs of military consumers and developing initiatives to empower servicemembers, veterans, and their families, including through law enforcement actions. The Military Task Force, comprised of a cross-section of agency representatives, is part of the FTC’s ongoing and collaborative effort to provide resources for the military community. Servicemembers, like all consumers, are potential targets for fraudsters. Certain scams are more likely to target the military community because those families may relocate frequently and because many service members are living on their own and earning a paycheck for the first time.
FROM THE INTEREST GROUPS Following the U.S. Trustee Program’s recently issued guidelines for natural disasters mentioned above, NACBA and NCLC wrote a joint letter urging for stronger relief for bankruptcy debtors in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico proportionate to the serious problems those hurricane victims are now facing. Specifically, NACBA and NCLC request USTP approve a waiver of credit counseling requirements in the areas of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
OTHER A report was recently published that analyzed issues of bankruptcy and race in America. Interested parties can access the report online.