U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) are taking another angle in their fight to preserve, as it, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
It must remain “a strong, independent agency so it can continue to safeguard military families and veterans from financial abuse,” they say in a joint statement.
Issued along with the statement is a brief video highlighting Congressional testimony from senior enlisted advisors from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force praising the CFPB’s work on behalf of servicemembers and their families.
In a letter to their Senate colleagues, Brown and Reed noted that the CFPB's Office of Servicemember Affairs has handled more than 70,000 complaints from military personnel and provided financial education at 148 military facilities nationwide. The pair called on Senators to resist efforts by the CFPB’s critics to undermine the bureau’s ability to carry out this mission by weakening its structure, funding, or independence.
Brown and Reed are the ranking members of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, and the Armed Services Committee, respectively.
“CFPB enforcement and supervision makes it less likely that men and women on active duty are distracted by debt collectors, payday lenders, or problems with their mortgage servicers,” Brown and Reed wrote. “If Congress really wants to provide our servicemembers and their families with the best resources, then we should continue to support an independent and strong CFPB. We should further empower the CFPB to fight for our servicemembers and their families, while they fight to protect and defend us.”
The two senators stressed that a bad credit report, a debt-collection action, or other financial problem can harm a servicemember’s career as well as a unit’s mission readiness. According to estimates, between 4,700 and 8,000 military personnel are involuntarily separated from service each year due to financial problems, with associated costs to the military of as much as $57,333 per separation.
In addition, more than 1,100 servicemembers lost their security clearances due to financial issues in fiscal 2013 alone.