PROVIDING FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISAPPROVAL OF A RULE SUBMITTED BY BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION
(Senate - April 17, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 62 (Tuesday, April 17, 2018)]
[Pages S2200-S2211]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 PROVIDING FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISAPPROVAL OF A RULE SUBMITTED BY BUREAU 
                    OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the joint resolution.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A joint resolution (S.J. Res. 57) providing for 
     congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United 
     States Code, of the rule submitted by Bureau of Consumer 
     Financial Protection relating to ``Indirect Auto Lending and 
     Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.''

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho.
  Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I rise today to offer my support for 
Senator Moran and Senator Toomey's resolution using the Congressional 
Review Act to disapprove of the CFPB's 2013 auto finance guidance.
  It is important that Congress disapprove this guidance because it was 
an attempt by the CFPB to make substantive policy changes through 
guidance rather than through the rulemaking process governed by the 
Administrative Procedure Act. It was also an attempt to regulate auto 
dealers who were explicitly exempted from the CFPB's supervision and 
regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act.
  According to an internal CFPB memo, the CFPB rejected developing a 
rule using its statutory authority to regulate unfair, deceptive, and 
abusive acts and practices because ``the potentially unfair, deceptive, 
or abusive actions are ostensibly those of dealers, over whom we have 
no regulatory authority.''
  As the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted, ``That didn't stop 
former CFPB chief Richard Cordray, who used the back door of auto-
financing to regulate dealers.''
  Make no mistake--the CFPB's decision to develop guidance instead of a 
rule was intentional. At Senator Toomey's request, the Government 
Accountability Office evaluated the bulletin to see if it should have 
been submitted to Congress as required by the Congressional Review Act.
  The GAO concluded:

       The Bulletin is a general statement of policy designed to 
     assist indirect auto lenders to ensure that they are 
     operating in compliance with ECOA and Regulation B, as 
     applied to dealer markup and compensation practices. As such, 
     it is a rule subject to the requirements of the CRA.

  Plainly, the CFPB failed to follow the law by failing to submit the 
bulletin to Congress. Furthermore, issuing guidance instead of 
formulating a rule allowed the CFPB to sidestep important aspects of 
the administrative rulemaking process that provide for accountability, 
transparency, and thorough evaluation.
  Federal agency rules are governed by the Administrative Procedure 
Act, which generally requires an agency to publish a notice of a 
rulemaking, take comments from the public, and establish an effective 
date for a rule. Notice and comment is a vital step in the process 
because it gives individuals and businesses subject to rulemakings the 
opportunity to provide feedback on the practical effect of a rule's 
implementation, and it allows an agency to adjust the rule as necessary 
to avoid any undue consumer harm. In contrast, bulletins generally do 
not afford the public an opportunity to lend their

[[Page S2201]]

voice to the process and have historically been used by Federal 
agencies to simply restate existing law to aid covered companies' 
compliance.
  The CFPB's indirect auto bulletin represents a departure from typical 
Federal agency practice, as reflected in the GAO's conclusion that it 
is a rule subject to CRA requirements.
  Without the opportunity for public comment and the ability for the 
bulletin to be revised to avoid any unintended consequences, auto 
dealers' incentive to act as an intermediary has been greatly 
diminished. As a result, consumers will be inconvenienced and have 
fewer and more expensive financing options when shopping for a vehicle.
  Some people opposed to this resolution are concerned about what this 
means for regulatory guidance more generally. I would note that almost 
all guidance issued by agencies may qualify as a rule under the 
Congressional Review Act and must be submitted to Congress for 
potential disapproval. The CRA's definition of a rule includes, with 
some limited exceptions, ``the whole or a part of an agency statement 
of general or particular applicability and future effect designed to 
implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy.''
  Explaining the Congressional Review Act's definition of a rule, the 
GAO said: ``This definition is broad, and includes both rules requiring 
notice and comment rulemaking and those that do not, such as general 
statements of policy.''
  This particular bulletin, according to GAO, ``advises the public 
prospectively of the manner in which the CFPB proposes to exercise its 
discretionary enforcement power and fits squarely within the Supreme 
Court's definition of a statement of policy.''
  Congress has the power to overturn any agency rule. Under the 
Congressional Review Act, Congress has the power to overturn agency 
rules using an expedited procedure. There is nothing special about 
guidance issued by the agencies that should cause people to be 
concerned, especially a rule masquerading as guidance. Article I grants 
Congress legislative power, and by disapproving this rule, we are 
ensuring that the CFPB cannot issue a rule that is substantially the 
same as the one it just tried to issue.
  There have also been questions raised regarding the flawed 
methodology the CFPB used in its supervisory and enforcement activities 
based on this bulletin to allege discriminatory auto loan pricing.
  In November 2015, the House Financial Services Committee's majority 
staff issued a report exploring the CFPB's approach to enforcing the 
ECOA against indirect auto lenders. The report focuses on the 
controversial use of disparate impact theory and the CFPB's use of a 
flawed statistical methodology, which only takes into account an 
individual's last name and ZIP Code in order to determine a probability 
for race and ethnicity. This approach is less reliable than other, more 
proven methodologies. A November 2014 study estimated that only 24 
percent of African Americans and 50 percent of Asians were correctly 
identified using this methodology.
  In light of such significant concerns, the House introduced 
legislation in 2015 to nullify the effect of the bulletin and place 
guardrails around the development of any future indirect auto lending 
guidance. That bill garnered significant bipartisan support, passing 
the House by a vote of 332 to 96, including 88 Democrats.
  This resolution has attracted substantial support, as well, including 
from 12 different organizations involved with helping consumers buy a 
vehicle and an endorsement via a Statement of Administration Policy 
from the White House.
  For example, the chamber of commerce notes that ``internal documents 
[at the CFPB] demonstrate that even [CFPB] Bureau staff found the data 
and methodology intended to support the rule `unconvincing.'''
  The Independent Community Bankers of America notes that ``since the 
issuance of the Bulletin, many community bankers have reported added 
difficulty in meeting the varying borrowing needs of their customers 
based on confusing and overly-burdensome guidance.''
  The National Association of Auto Dealers notes that ``extensive 
bipartisan congressional engagement has identified several reasons to 
disapprove the CFPB rule/guidance, including a lack of due process, 
concerns about the CFPB's failure to adhere to Section 1029 of Dodd-
Frank, and the negative impact on consumers and small business 
dealers.''
  The American Bankers Association said that ``the regulatory and 
enforcement uncertainty caused by this Guidance has caused many banks 
to exit or to curtail their indirect auto lending, which limits 
consumer choice and increases the cost of credit.''
  The American Financial Services Association said that ``the guidance 
is harmful because it pressures vehicle finance companies to limit 
consumers' ability to receive discounted auto loans from dealers. 
Furthermore, the guidance threatens to raise credit costs and push 
marginally creditworthy consumers out of the vehicle financing market, 
and has the potential to harm the vehicle industry and its associated 
U.S. jobs.''
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the five letters I cited 
be printed in the Record, as well as a joint letter from the National 
Auto Dealers Association, the National RV Dealers Association, the 
American International Automobile Dealers, the Auto Alliance, the 
National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, the National Auto 
Auction Association, the American Financial Services Association, the 
Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, and the Motorcycle Industry 
Council, all expressing their strong support for S.J. Res. 57.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                American Financial


                                         Services Association,

                                   Washington, DC, April 13, 2018.
       Dear Senator: The American Financial Services Association 
     (AFSA) writes to express our strong support for S.J. Res. 57, 
     which would rescind the Consumer Financial Protection 
     Bureau's (CFPB) 2013 vehicle finance guidance. The guidance 
     is harmful to American consumers and businesses, and the CFPB 
     acted without accountability in its issuance of the guidance.
       The guidance is harmful because it pressures vehicle 
     finance companies to limit consumers' ability to receive 
     discounted auto loans from dealers. Furthermore, the guidance 
     threatens to raise credit costs and push marginally 
     creditworthy consumers out of the vehicle financing market, 
     and has the potential to harm the vehicle industry and its 
     associated U.S. jobs.
       The Bureau issued the guidance without any public comment, 
     consultation with CFPB's sister agencies, or transparency. 
     The CFPB issued the policy, which directed fundamental market 
     changes, without a transparent rulemaking process to assess 
     the impact on consumers.
       In the 114th Congress, the House overwhelming approved H.R. 
     1737, the ``Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance 
     Act,'' a bill rejecting the vehicle finance guidance similar 
     to S.J. Res 57. The legislation passed the House by a 
     bipartisan vote of 332-96, including 88 Democrats.
       S.J. Res. 57 is a narrow resolution that preserves fair 
     lending protections. It does not hinder enforcement of fair 
     lending laws or regulations, which AFSA and its members 
     strongly support. In fact, even the House Financial Services 
     Committee minority report accompanying H.R. 1737 stated that, 
     ``H.R. 1737 does not alter regulated entities' obligations 
     under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) or the CFPB's 
     examination or enforcement activity pursuant to ECOA.'' 
     Proponents of S.J. Res. 57 take fair credit laws very 
     seriously, and the resolution protects these laws and their 
     enforcement to safeguard equal opportunity in vehicle 
     financing.
       Please lend your support S.J. Res. 57, both as a cosponsor 
     and an affirmative vote on the Senate floor. If you need more 
     information, please contact me.
           Sincerely,

                                                 Bill Himpler,

                                         Executive Vice President,
     American Financial Services Association.
                                  ____

                                               National Automotive


                                          Dealers Association,

                                       Tysons, VA, April 13, 2018.
     Hon. Mitch McConnell,
     Majority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Charles Schumer,
     Minority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer: On behalf of 
     America's 16,500 franchised new car and truck dealers and the 
     1.1 million people they employ, I am writing in strong 
     support of S.J. Res. 57, a joint resolution providing for 
     Congressional disapproval of the rule by the Consumer 
     Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) relating to indirect auto 
     lending. Despite Congress exempting

[[Page S2202]]

     most auto dealers from the CFPB's jurisdiction under Section 
     1029 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer 
     Protection Act, the CFPB's rule, issued as ``guidance,'' 
     operates to reduce market competition and take away a 
     consumer's ability to receive a discounted auto loan in the 
     showroom. Access to affordable credit is essential to 
     consumers, and the ability of a dealer to discount credit is 
     often necessary to meet auto buyers' needs.
       S.J. Res. 57 is a narrowly-tailored joint resolution that 
     does not amend or change any fair credit law or regulation or 
     impair their enforcement. The legislation is a measured 
     response to the CFPB's attempt to regulate the $1.1 trillion 
     auto financing market, avoid congressional scrutiny by 
     issuing ``guidance,'' and impose a new policy without 
     necessary procedural safeguards.
       Congress has considered this issue thoroughly during the 
     past several years through oversight and legislative action. 
     The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee 
     raised the matter during two CFPB oversight hearings. 
     Moreover, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 332-96, 
     including 88 Democrats, in 2015 the House passed H.R. 1737, 
     the ``Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act,'' 
     which would have rescinded the CFPB auto finance guidance.
       The extensive bipartisan congressional engagement has 
     identified several reasons to disapprove the CFPB rule/
     guidance, including a lack of due process, concerns about the 
     CFPB's failure to adhere to Section 1029 of Dodd-Frank, and 
     the negative impact on consumers and small business dealers. 
     In particular:
       The rule/guidance was issued without any prior notice, 
     opportunity for public comment, or consultation with the 
     federal agencies Congress authorized to regulate dealers.
       Indirect auto lenders were pressured by the rule/guidance 
     to eliminate a consumer's ability to receive a discount on 
     auto credit by a dealer, which would have fundamentally 
     altered the entire auto finance market. This new policy would 
     have limited market competition, raised credit costs for auto 
     buyers, and thereby pushed some marginally creditworthy 
     borrowers out of the credit market. The CFPB admitted to the 
     Senate that it did not analyze the impact of the rule/
     guidance on consumers.
       Despite Congress' clear determination in Dodd-Frank to 
     place regulatory oversight of auto retailers with the Federal 
     Reserve Board, Federal Trade Commission and Department of 
     Justice (DOJ), the rule/guidance assumed the CFPB could 
     unilaterally assert jurisdiction over dealer discounts and 
     the manner of dealer compensation for auto credit.
       The rule/guidance was based on a flawed method for 
     identifying the background of consumers that relied solely on 
     a borrower's zip code and last name. A non-partisan study of 
     the CFPB's policy found a 41 percent error rate for 
     classifying the background of a significant group of 
     consumers, and even the CFPB's own review revealed a 20 
     percent error rate for the same group. (This non-partisan 
     study was never rebutted by the CFPB.)
       The rule/guidance failed to account for legitimate business 
     factors that can affect finance rates (such as discounting a 
     rate due to the presence of a competing offer or to 
     accommodate a consumer's monthly budget constraint) to ensure 
     that borrowers being compared are similarly situated.
       The auto industry takes fair credit laws very seriously and 
     strongly condemns discrimination. In furtherance of this 
     commitment, NADA, joined by the other national dealer 
     associations, developed and continues to promote a voluntary 
     fair-credit compliance program, based on an effective DOJ 
     model that preserves consumer discounts on credit for 
     legitimate business reasons. Unfortunately, the CFPB, 
     refusing to work with the Federal regulators that have 
     jurisdiction over dealers, failed to adopt the DOJ-based fair 
     credit alternative as an appropriate method to mitigate fair 
     credit risks in indirect auto lending.
       Enactment of S.J. Res. 57 is important to keep auto loans 
     affordable and accessible for consumers. America's franchised 
     auto dealers urge a ``Yes'' vote on S.J. Res. 57 should it be 
     considered by the Senate. Thank you for your consideration.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Peter K. Welch,
                                                President and CEO.
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                                 American Bankers Association,

                                   Washington, DC, April 17, 2018.
     Hon. Mitch McConnell,
     Majority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Charles Schumer,
     Minority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer: 
     On behalf of the members of the American Bankers Association 
     (ABA), I write to express our support for S. J. Res. 57, a 
     resolution to disapprove BCFP Bulletin No. 2013-02, 
     ``Indirect Auto Lending and Compliance with the Equal Credit 
     Opportunity Act'' (Bulletin).
       According to the statements of the Bureau of Consumer 
     Financial Protection (Bureau) at the time of issue, the 
     Bulletin was to provide lenders with fair lending compliance 
     ``guidance'' in situations when lenders permit automobile 
     dealers flexibility to set automobile loan interest rates. In 
     practice, however, the Bulletin was applied as far more than 
     guidance, asserting with regulatory effect, highly 
     controversial legal theories and methodologies to allege that 
     banks and finance companies that purchase motor vehicle 
     installment sales contracts may be liable under the Equal 
     Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) for purported, but 
     undemonstrated racial disparities in the interest rates that 
     the automobile dealers charged consumers.
       ABA strongly believes that every automobile customer 
     deserves to be treated fairly, and that there is no room for 
     illegal discrimination of any kind in automobile financing. 
     However, the Bulletin was issued without the opportunity for 
     public comment on its legal underpinnings, critical review of 
     its assumption and bases, and its impact on consumer access 
     to convenient and affordable credit.
       The regulatory and enforcement uncertainty caused by this 
     Guidance has caused many banks to exit or curtail their 
     indirect auto lending, which limits consumer choice and 
     increases the cost of credit.
       ABA urges the Senate to adopt S.J. Res. 57.
           Sincerely,
     James C. Ballentine.
                                  ____

                                               Chamber of Commerce


                              of the United States of America,

                                   Washington, DC, April 17, 2018.
       To Members of the United States Senate: The U.S. Chamber of 
     Commerce urges you to support S.J. Res. 57, a Congressional 
     Review Act resolution to undo the Bureau of Consumer 
     Financial Protection's action on indirect auto lending. The 
     Chamber will consider including votes on, or in relation to, 
     S.J. Res. 57 in our How They Voted scorecard.
       In 2013, the Bureau issued a ``Bulletin'' that imposed new 
     requirements under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) to 
     address purported discrimination. The Bulletin established 
     that indirect lenders--firms that are never face-to-face with 
     borrowers and only purchase contracts after-the-fact from 
     auto dealers--could be liable for discrimination.
       The Chamber abhors discrimination in all its forms, 
     including in the financial service and auto lending sectors.
       However, the Bureau provided little concrete evidence of 
     problems that the Bulletin was intended to address. In fact, 
     internal documents demonstrate that even Bureau staff found 
     the data and methodology intended to support the rule 
     ``unconvincing.''
       We thank Senator Moran and Senator Toomey for their 
     leadership to resolve this overreach by the Bureau and for 
     engaging the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which 
     determined on December 5, 2017, that the Bulletin is in fact 
     a ``rule'' for purposes of the Congressional Review Act.
       Moreover, we applaud the work of the House Financial 
     Services Committee, which released three reports on the 
     topic.
       The Chamber believes the Bureau--like all other federal 
     agencies--should follow the Administrative Procedure Act when 
     issuing guidance and promulgating regulations. Agency actions 
     should be based on clear legislative authority, solid data, 
     and proper public input. That is why the Chamber strongly 
     supports the Portman-Heitkamp ``Regulatory Accountability 
     Act,'' which would modernize the rulemaking and guidance 
     processes for the first time since 1946.
       The Chamber urges you to reject the Bureau's Bulletin and 
     to support S.J. Res. 57.
           Sincerely,

                                                  Jack Howard,

                                            Senior Vice President,
     Congressional and Public Affairs.
                                  ____

                                             Independent Community


                                Bankers of American,

                                   Washington, DC, April 17, 2018.
     Hon. Mitch McConnell,
     Majority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Charles E. Schumer,
     Minority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer: 
     On behalf of the nearly 5,700 community banks represented by 
     ICBA, I write today to urge all members of the Senate to 
     support S.J. Res. 57, a joint resolution under the 
     Congressional Review Act (CRA) introduced by Sen. Jerry Moran 
     (R-Kan.) to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection 
     Bureau's (CFPB) 2013 auto finance guidance set forth in CFPB 
     Bulletin 2013-02, titled ``Indirect Auto Lending and 
     Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity'' (Bulletin).
       S.J. Res. 57 follows the U.S. Government Accountability 
     Office's (GAO's) determination that the ``guidance'' outlined 
     in the Bulletin is a ``rule'' subject to CRA. Sen. Pat Toomey 
     (R-Pa.) requested that GAO determine whether the Bulletin was 
     subject to CRA. Since the issuance of the Bulletin, many 
     community bankers have reported added difficulty in meeting 
     the varying borrowing needs of their customers based on 
     confusing and overly-burdensome guidance. For this reason, 
     ICBA supports this effort to overturn this harmful guidance 
     administered by the CFPB.
       ICBA and America's community banks thank you for your 
     consideration.
           Sincerely,
                                                   Camden R. Fine,
                                                  President & CEO.

[[Page S2203]]

     
                                  ____
         NADA, Auto Alliance, American Financial Services 
           Association, The National RV Dealers Association, 
           National Independent Automotive Dealers Association, 
           Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, American 
           International Automotive Dealers, National Auto Auction 
           Association, Motorcycle Industry Council.
                                                   April 16, 2018.
       Dear Senator: We, the undersigned organizations which 
     represent businesses that make, sell, finance, auction and 
     service vehicles are writing to express our strong support 
     for S.J. Res. 57, a joint resolution to disapprove the 
     Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) 2013 auto 
     finance guidance. The CFPB guidance pressures indirect auto 
     lenders to limit a consumer's ability to receive a discounted 
     auto loan from a dealer, resulting in less competition, 
     higher financing rates, and loss of credit access for many 
     vehicle buyers.
       Access to affordable credit, including a dealer's ability 
     to discount credit, is essential to meet the transportation 
     needs of our customers. Since more than 80 percent of vehicle 
     purchases are financed, adequate retail credit is vital to 
     facilitate vehicle sales. The current system benefits 
     consumers as dealers' access to multiple lending institutions 
     frequently allows dealers to help consumers, including the 
     marginally credit worthy who often have limited options, 
     secure financing at competitive interest rates.
       The CFPB auto lending policy, issued through a guidance, 
     directed fundamental market changes without a transparent 
     rulemaking process to assess the impact on consumers. This 
     guidance was issued without any public comment, consultation 
     with CFPB's sister agencies (including those that Congress 
     authorized to regulate auto dealers), or transparency. 
     Indeed, by the CFPB's own admission, the agency did not study 
     the impact of its guidance on consumers.
       This controversial guidance also enabled the agency to 
     skirt Congress' express prohibition on its exercise of 
     authority over auto, recreational vehicle, and motorcycle 
     retailers engaged in indirect lending, (Sec. 1029(a) of Dodd-
     Frank). Under the Dodd-Frank law dealers continue to be 
     regulated by that Federal Reserve Board, Federal Trade 
     Commission and Department of Justice, as well as rigorous 
     state laws and regulations.
       The auto industry takes fair credit laws extremely 
     seriously and has proactively promoted a comprehensive 
     compliance program to enhance fair credit lending. Under the 
     Department of Justice (DOJ) modeled program, a dealer can 
     reduce the consumer's APR by documenting one of seven 
     ``legitimate business reasons'' identified by the DOJ as a 
     legitimate reason for a dealer to discount credit. Legitimate 
     business reasons include ``meeting or beating'' a competitive 
     offer that is available to the customer from another dealer 
     or lender. Preserving this vigorously competitive market for 
     vehicle financing lowers the cost of auto credit for 
     consumers across the board. When Congress created the CFPB, 
     surely it did not intend the agency to use its power to stop 
     vehicle retailers from offering consumers discounts.
       In a rejection of the auto finance guidance, last Congress 
     the House overwhelming approved a bill similar to S.J. Res. 
     57, H.R. 1737, the ``Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing 
     Guidance Act.'' H.R. 1737, which would have rescinded the 
     guidance, passed by a bipartisan vote of 332-96, including 88 
     Democrats (November 18, 2015).
       Despite the House's overwhelmingly bipartisan approval of 
     the legislation and additional bipartisan efforts in the 
     Senate to seek a resolution on this issue, the CFPB rebuffed 
     extensive industry efforts to work together to fashion a 
     solution that would preserve discounted auto loans by dealers 
     within the parameters of the DOJ-based model. In addition, 
     the CFPB continued to pressure finance sources to limit a 
     dealer's ability to discount credit based on a deeply flawed 
     method for measuring lender compliance with fair lending 
     laws.
       S.J. Res. 57 is narrow and purely a process resolution that 
     preserves fair lending protections and does not hinder 
     enforcement of fair lending laws or regulations. In fact, 
     even the House Financial Services Committee minority report 
     accompanying H.R. 1737 stated that ``H.R. 1737 does not alter 
     regulated entities' obligations under the Equal Credit 
     Opportunity Act (ECOA) or the CFPB's examination or 
     enforcement activity pursuant to ECOA.'' Proponents of S.J. 
     Res. 57 take fair credit laws very seriously, and this joint 
     resolution protects these laws and their enforcement to 
     safeguard equal opportunity in vehicle financing.
       Senators should disapprove the auto finance guidance that 
     operates to eliminate dealer discounts, threatens to raise 
     credit costs and push marginally creditworthy consumers out 
     of the vehicle financing market, and harms the vehicle 
     industry and its associated U.S. jobs. Vehicle sales play an 
     important role in the economy, as they constitute almost 20 
     percent of all retail spending in the U.S. Nationwide the 
     vehicle industry provides jobs for more than 7 million 
     workers and their families. It is in the best interest of 
     consumers, dealers, and vehicle manufacturers to keep vehicle 
     financing competitive and affordable.
       Keeping auto financing competitive and affordable is not 
     only warranted, it is essential for the vehicle industry and 
     its customers. That is why similar legislation easily passed 
     the House, and why the Senate should pass S.J. Res. 57.

  Mr. CRAPO. Finally, President Trump's Statement of Administration 
Policy also endorses this resolution. I am going to read a few 
highlights from the statement.

       This bulletin limits the ability of auto dealers to offer 
     auto loans to their customers and was not issued pursuant to 
     notice-and-comment rulemaking. As a result, the CFPB failed 
     to allow the public to comment before it made significant 
     changes to an important sector of the economy. Dodd-Frank 
     explicitly excludes the regulation of auto dealers from the 
     CFPB's jurisdiction. Disapproving this bulletin, therefore, 
     would provide consumers with more options for auto financing 
     while ensuring that the CFPB abides by congressional limits 
     on its jurisdiction.

  This rule should be disapproved, and any future action on the matter 
should go through the appropriate rulemaking process established by 
Congress. If this rule stands, banks, credit unions, and finance 
companies holding nearly $1.1 trillion in outstanding loans will 
needlessly face significant liability, and the ability of auto dealers 
to play a valuable role by matching buyers and lenders will be 
diminished.
  I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, I am here to lend my support to a measure 
that I have had the honor of working on with the Senator from 
Pennsylvania, Mr. Toomey, and I have worked side by side with the 
chairman of the Banking Committee--of which I am a member--the Senator 
from Idaho, Mr. Crapo. I very much appreciate the leadership that both 
of those individuals and my other colleagues have provided over a long 
period of time on this issue.
  Dodd-Frank was passed as a result of the concerns that many had 
across the country and here in the Congress regarding the financial 
challenges that our Nation faced resulting from mortgages that were 
sold. It really was a Wall Street crisis that, in so many ways, became 
challenging for Main Street, with Main Street having the consequence of 
having the difficulties presented to them based upon what happened on 
Wall Street, and in so many instances, consumers ended up paying the 
price. But as we tried to correct the problem when Dodd-Frank was 
passed, it got way beyond the culprits--those who were culpable for 
creating the financial crisis in our Nation--and began to penalize 
those who had nothing to do with them.
  One of the creatures of the passage of Dodd-Frank was the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau, and one of the aspects of the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau was their effort to regulate indirect auto 
lending.
  I think the chairman, the Senator from Idaho, did a great job of 
explaining this resolution. Today, we have the authority to reject the 
decision that was made by the Consumer Financial Protect Bureau, and I 
hope my colleagues will join me in doing so. I have introduced this 
resolution to accomplish that.
  Senator Toomey has made clear by his efforts that this guidance that 
was issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is subject to a 
CRA, and that is our mission today--to accomplish the passage of that 
CRA.
  While the chairman was speaking, I jotted down perhaps four or five 
points that I would like to make to my colleagues. One is that those 
who lend money to someone buying an automobile had nothing to do with 
the financial collapse that occurred as a result of the mortgage crisis 
in 2007 and 2008.
  I think Republicans probably made a mistake--I could take out the 
political word ``probably.'' Republicans made a mistake in saying ``We 
are going to repeal Dodd-Frank,'' and Democrats responded by saying 
``You are never going to touch Dodd-Frank.'' As a result, since 2008, 
we have been unable to correct, in a bipartisan way, the problems that 
many of us saw with Dodd-Frank. There are those who say ``We are going 
to get rid of the entire thing,'' and those who say ``You can't

[[Page S2204]]

touch it.'' Therefore, the consumers--the citizens of this country--
have struggled and been damaged by the consequences of Dodd-Frank.
  Today we are dealing with a specific provision, and that is the 
indirect automobile lending--a circumstance in which financing is 
arranged by someone who sells an automobile in their business to make 
the deal work for the consumer who wants to buy the automobile.
  I would outline these five points: First of all, this ought to be a 
relatively easy decision because automobile dealers are specifically 
excluded from the provisions of Dodd-Frank. So, in my view, the 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had to work its magic to try to 
find a way to regulate the financing of automobiles that were arranged 
for by the automobile dealer in contravention to the law which says 
that automobile dealers are not covered by it.
  I was not in the Senate at the time this amendment was offered. It 
was offered here in the U.S. Senate by my predecessor, Senator 
Brownback, and adopted as a provision in Dodd-Frank. It is very 
specific.
  I just read the language of the exemption, the exclusion, before I 
came on the Senate floor. Again, it says that automobile dealers are 
excluded from the provisions of Dodd-Frank. Yet the Consumer Financial 
Protection Bureau found a way to get around direct law and, in that 
sense, the intent of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives 
when they passed Dodd-Frank. So just on its face, we ought to decide 
that the CRA is worth supporting because we are really reaffirming the 
decision that was made when Dodd-Frank was passed.
  Second, the process the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau used--
they didn't draft a rule and go through the rulemaking process, and 
they didn't put anything out for comment by the industry that would be 
affected or by the consumers who may pay more as a result of the 
passage or the enactment of this guidance. But they created something 
that regulatory bodies often do and tried to provide--the word is 
``guidance.'' What they say they are doing is providing direction, 
without passing a rule, to those who might be affected by the rule, but 
as a result of just using guidance, no input was solicited, no input 
therefore could be given, and the Administrative Procedure Act was 
avoided.
  I remember the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 
was in front of the Banking Committee when he was asked: How can this 
be? His answer was simply: This is guidance, and the Administrative 
Procedure Act doesn't apply. Yet, as we have seen, the GAO has recently 
concluded that this is the same outcome, the same result as rulemaking 
would be and therefore subject to the CRA.
  What that highlights for me is, in two instances already, the CFPB 
finagled and created a way to get to an outcome they wanted without 
following, in this case, the Administrative Procedure Act and, 
secondly, in violation of the statutory prohibition against having 
anything to do with automobile dealers. So for those two reasons, we 
ought to be opposed to the guidance that was directed to the automobile 
dealers and those who lend money at the direction of those automobile 
dealers.

  The third item I would raise is what this guidance is designed to do 
is to prevent discrimination. What they claimed they were doing was to 
make certain that interest rates do not differ based upon a person's 
race. If that were the desired outcome, I would have no qualms. But 
because you can't ask a person's race, there is no way to know. So what 
the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau did was to create a computer 
program, an algorithm, in which they guessed what a person's race was 
based upon their last name--how it sounds--and, secondly, on their ZIP 
Code. Never was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau able to 
provide the evidence that anyone had been discriminated against, only 
that if you use a computer program and run a bunch of numbers through 
it, the algorithm, based upon what a person's name sounds like--which I 
guess, in my mind, is discrimination in and of itself--and, secondly, 
the ZIP Code--perhaps the same thing could be said about that--
determine what race a person is or was.
  So the methods by which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 
determined discrimination were flawed. In fact, a bipartisan report 
indicated that 41 percent of the determinations were inaccurate, so not 
quite half of every time the algorithm guessed what the race of a 
borrower was, it was wrong. Yet that apparently was sufficient for the 
CFPB to believe they had a basis to determine whether someone was 
discriminated against.
  I can't imagine that many Americans would find it comforting to know 
that only a computer program determines what somebody believes their 
race is, again, based upon a hypothetical and not upon actual facts.
  Again, the method by which the guidance was used to determine 
discrimination was significantly flawed and a process in which I can't 
believe many Americans would find comfort.
  What I would say, finally, is that elimination of the guidance--
passage of the CRA today--would not do anything to change the 
prohibition against discrimination. It is not that if the CRA is 
adopted that discrimination now becomes legal; in fact, we all can 
agree that discrimination has no place in our society or in our 
economy. But the absence of this CFPB guidance does not make 
discrimination legal. It does not amend or modify the Equal Credit 
Opportunity Act nor does it change regulation B, which allows for 
enforcement of that act.
  What we are trying to do is correct the mistakes by the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau under Dodd-Frank, which says that you can't 
deal with automobile dealers, correct the problems that the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau created by using an algorithm to determine 
discrimination, and at the same time, not do anything to change the 
prohibition, the illegality of discriminating against a person based 
upon that person's race.
  Also, I think we can easily make the case that this kind of guidance, 
this effort by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, causes damage 
to the consumer, who therefore will not get the benefit of an 
appropriate rate of interest because of the fear of this guidance, 
which then, ultimately, results in just a standard interest rate for 
everyone.
  Today we have the opportunity to correct a problem that was created 
in contravention of a law that used a flawed method to determine 
whether a person was discriminated against and to improve the 
circumstances that consumers face at a time in which every dime 
matters, so we should see improvement in the opportunities for people 
to borrow money and to buy an automobile for the benefit of themselves 
and their families.
  I hope that my colleagues will join me, as they did on the motion to 
proceed, and that this CRA will be adopted over the next day or so.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the motion. This is 
my second day in a row being on the opposite side of my friend Senator 
Moran and Senator Crapo, too, for that matter, but you have to do what 
you have to do.
  Over the last year and a half, as we have seen time after time after 
time, Republicans in this Congress have made it pretty clear to the 
American people whose side they are on. They have used the 
Congressional Review Act--something nobody at home really knows about 
and something most of us didn't know anything about until we began to 
see at the White House these executive retreats every weekend for Wall 
Street executives. They have used the Congressional Review Act more 
than any other Congress in history to give handouts to big corporations 
at the expense of ordinary Americans.
  It is not enough for Republican legislators to go to Senator 
McConnell's office down the hall and cut deals giving tax cuts to the 
richest people in the country and giving tax breaks to General Motors, 
which promised that if tax cuts were given to the largest corporations 
in America, they were going to raise wages and hire more people.
  Well, GM just announced--to its everlasting discredit--hundreds of 
layoffs at its Lordstown plant near Youngstown, OH. Hundreds and 
hundreds of people were laid off, perhaps permanently. We don't know, 
but the signs

[[Page S2205]]

aren't good. At the same time, General Motors in Toledo, because they 
make the transmissions for the Chevy Cruze in Youngstown, are laying 
people off. And then the Ohio Turnpike from Toledo to Youngstown, this 
long Ohio turnpike--one of the centers of the American auto industry--
we will probably see layoffs in the supply chain. Even though they got 
a huge tax cut, written in the office down the hall, in Majority Leader 
McConnell's office--they got a huge tax cut and lots of money in their 
pockets. What do they do? They mostly do corporate buybacks and stock 
buybacks. They share this money with their biggest stockholders.

  So that is what happened with the tax cut. Now they are giving 
another handout to a big corporation at the expense of Americans. It is 
bad enough that we are considering this Congressional Review Act piece 
of legislation. We are considering a bill that would tell Wall Street 
banks and shady lenders that it is OK to discriminate against 
borrowers.
  Somebody who looks like me can go to a car dealership and get a loan 
when they decide they are going to buy a Chevy Cruze. My wife and I 
have each bought a Chevy Cruze. I am going to go finance a Chevy Cruze, 
and I get a certain interest rate. We have seen data that shows that if 
somebody looks a little different from me--if they are African 
American, Latina, Asian American, or Pacific Islanders--they pay a 
higher interest rate. We know that is what the data says. But this 
body--from the last vote, it is pretty clear--they say that is all 
right, that if the dealer wants to charge higher interest rates to 
people of color, that is OK.
  So it is bad enough that we are saying today and this body is giving 
its stamp of approval saying that it is OK to discriminate and to 
charge higher interest rates to people of color. I have said this in 
the Banking Committee before, and Senator Crapo has heard me say this 
many times: The ZIP Code where my wife and I live in Cleveland, OH, had 
more foreclosures than any ZIP Code in the United States of America. 
There are reasons for that. Part of the reasons for that is who lives 
in my ZIP Code, mostly.
  But it is not just that which today's legislation would do. It 
threatens thousands more protections for workers and families that are 
vulnerable to repeal by Congress.
  Republicans have used the Congressional Review Act to repeal 
important rules that would have given low-wage workers access to 
retirement plans. So here in the Senate, we talk about caring about 
workers, we talk about the dignity of work, and we talk about helping 
people save for the future, but one of the provisions of the 
Congressional Review Act would have given low-wage workers access to 
retirement plans, and this legislation takes it away.
  One of the other rules that were rolled back ensured that Federal 
contract employers had protections for their workers regardless of 
race, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation. It 
ensured that women had the right to choose their own healthcare 
provider regardless of their form of insurance.
  The Congressional Review Act repeals all of those rules.
  They repealed the rule that would have guaranteed customers the right 
to a day in court when they were ripped off by a bank like Wells Fargo. 
Wells Fargo has a whole rap sheet of ripping off their customers. But 
we in this body said: Well, you shouldn't have done that, Mr. and Mrs. 
Wells Fargo, but we are going to let you do that on individual 
contracts.
  So if you are wronged by Wells Fargo or any of these other big 
financial institutions, you don't get a day in court, sorry. That is 
what this body did.
  It is the same with Equifax. We know what Equifax did. Equifax 
violated the privacy of pretty much half the people in North Dakota or 
Idaho or Ohio or in this whole country, but we said: That is OK, 
Equifax; just try not to do it again; and we let them off the hook.
  Fortunately, too much time has passed for Congress to use the 
Congressional Review Act to roll back other protections the last 
administration put in place, but they now want to open up a whole new 
idea. They want to use a legal loophole to interfere with potentially 
thousands more Federal decisions, potentially going back as far as 20 
years.
  In order to clarify how laws work, Federal agencies--this is really 
in the weeds, but you know we have some pretty smart people here who 
figure out how to go in the weeds and find loopholes and exploit people 
and, frankly, hurt the little guy. Whether she works in construction or 
punches a time clock or works as a waitress in a diner in Garfield 
Heights, they find ways to screw the little guy.
  So here is how it works. Federal agencies issue guidance to help 
people understand how the law protects them and to help businesses 
understand how to follow the law. Just last week, some of these smart 
people--my Republican colleagues--at a hearing decried the practice of 
enforcing the law without providing guidance in advance. This week, 
though--this week--some of those same smart Republicans want to start 
nullifying agency guidance, which would completely up-end the Federal 
programs that families depend on. And this is an anti-business 
decision, too, on their part. The businesses want the predictability, 
they want the certainty so they can follow the rules.

  Under this crazy new plan, some of these very smart Republicans--and 
at least one of them is on the Banking Committee--under this new plan, 
they can ban Federal agencies from explaining how States administer 
Federal health insurance programs, programs like the Children's Health 
Insurance Program. They can undermine requirements to make sure that 
federally funded projects pay the local prevailing wages.
  Today I went to breakfast with a number of iron workers and glaziers 
and laborers and electricians and pipe fitters and others who work with 
their hands and make a damn good living, with good benefits and good 
retirement for their families. You know what. They can use this 
newfound rule that these very smart Republican legislators figured out 
how to exploit to undermine pay and beat back local prevailing wage 
laws.
  Republicans have used the Congressional Review Act to attack access 
to healthcare and worker and environmental protections. So it is no 
stretch. They have done it before. It is no stretch that they would do 
it again, only now there would be no limits on the types of agency 
actions they can target because they found this loophole and they can 
go back 20 years. The one we are working on today was handed down--this 
agency guidance was handed down in 2013.
  So one of the first things Republicans want to do with this--they are 
just so excited with this new loophole--they found that they can go 
after people who don't have good lobbyists in Washington. They can go 
after people who won't contribute to their campaign. They can go after 
people who, frankly, struggle every day just to make a living in this 
country.
  What is the first thing they do? They make car loans--it is clear 
what happens. They make car loans more expensive for women and for 
people of color. The bill sends a message to lenders across the country 
that if you are legally discriminating, go ahead, we are not going to 
stop you.
  We created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to police Wall 
Street banks and other shady lenders who ripped off working families. 
Under its last Director, the Bureau returned $12 billion to 29 million 
Americans who had been ripped off by payday lenders and credit card 
companies and for-profit colleges.
  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau used to be a cop on the beat 
to protect consumers. We want a consumer bureau because we have the 
banks--$1 trillion, $2 trillion; Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells 
Fargo--these banks are trillion-dollar banks, some of them $2 trillion. 
So we have the banks here, and we have a lot of consumers who don't 
have a union or any protection, and they sign these contracts for a 
loan or something, and they don't really know what the fine print says. 
So that is why we have a consumer bureau--to protect those people.
  Twenty-nine million Americans have benefited from it just since its 
creation less than a decade ago, and they have saved $12 billion. It 
used to be a cop on the beat. It used to issue reports warning 
consumers about industries that weren't following the law. It brought

[[Page S2206]]

tough enforcement actions. It identified discriminatory lending 
practices in auto loans and home mortgages.
  We know discrimination is still a major problem for people of color 
who make the biggest investment of their lives: their house and their 
car--their house and their car, their two biggest investments, and you 
can legally discriminate in this country because of the way somebody 
looks. You can discriminate against them because of race, and now we 
are saying it is OK.
  Look at what has happened in this country because they said that. 
Just a few months ago, the Center for Investigative Reporting released 
a report showing that redlining is still a problem in big American 
cities to this day. The National Fair Housing Alliance conducted tests 
and demonstrated that people of color were systematically offered worse 
loan terms for cars than White borrowers with the exact same credit 
seeking to purchase the exact same vehicle. But instead of working to 
root out this discrimination--you would think that is what we would all 
do, Republicans and Democrats alike. Instead, we are making it easier 
for banks to turn customers away or to take advantage of them based on 
the color of their skin. This is 2018, for gosh sakes. Why would we 
still be doing that?
  This repeal could permanently weaken Federal anti-discrimination 
laws. These laws have been the law of the land for decades. These are 
the laws that brave Americans fought for during the civil rights 
movement. Do you remember when Congress passed the fair housing bill? 
The fair housing bill was passed a week after Dr. King's assassination, 
50 years ago last week. You would think we would want to strengthen it, 
not weaken it.
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record letters from 
the scores of civil rights and consumer and environmental and other 
organizations that vehemently oppose this legislation.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                   April 16, 2018.
       The undersigned organizations are strongly united in 
     opposition to S.J. Resolution 57, sponsored by Sen. Moran (R-
     KS), which attempts to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) 
     to target regulatory actions by federal agencies that were 
     issued well in the past and have been in effect for years or 
     potentially even decades. We vigorously oppose any attempt by 
     the Senate to subject the ``Bulletin on Indirect Auto Lending 
     and Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act''--
     issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 
     2013--to a vote under the CRA. Many of us oppose repealing 
     this important guidance on substantive grounds, but we join 
     together today to focus instead on the procedural issue of 
     using the CRA against a guidance that has been in place for 
     years.
       We oppose such a vote, as it would contravene the clear 
     intent of the CRA to allow Congress to review and challenge 
     recently finalized agency actions. This would set a dangerous 
     precedent that would open the door for Congress to stretch 
     the CRA to challenge a wide variety of settled agency actions 
     that have been in effect for years or decades, particularly 
     ``guidance documents'' that are not only crucial to 
     protecting workers, consumers, minorities, the environment, 
     and the economy but also to providing regulatory certainty 
     for businesses and the public. Using the CRA, rather than 
     regular legislative order, to attack years-old established 
     guidance would be an extraordinary and egregious abuse of 
     normal process--exactly the kind of rigged action on behalf 
     of narrow corporate insiders that so infuriates Americans of 
     all political stripes.
       This Congress has already used the CRA in unprecedented 
     fashion to repeal fourteen common-sense, carefully developed 
     regulations that protect the public, including measures to 
     protect internet privacy, women's health, retirement 
     security, workplace safety, fair pay in the workplace, the 
     environment and clean water, anti-corruption safeguards, and 
     sensible gun control. Unlike the normal legislative process, 
     the CRA is already problematic legislation which gives 
     Congress the ability to strike down regulations that protect 
     the public on behalf of narrow special interests without any 
     congressional hearings and virtually no floor debate. The 
     appropriate response would be for Congress to revisit this 
     flawed process rather than expand it to undermine policies 
     that were finalized long ago.
       Applying the CRA to settled agency actions from the past 
     would violate the clear intent and spirit of the law. The 
     legislative history of the CRA makes plain its purpose: 
     ``this legislation establishes a government wide 
     congressional review mechanism for most new rules.'' As a 
     procedural matter, Congress could have, and more 
     appropriately should have, reviewed the guidance at issue 
     here back in 2013 when it was issued by the CFPB, requested a 
     GAO opinion at that time to determine its eligibility under 
     the CRA and potentially used the CRA to challenge such 
     guidance shortly after its issuance in 2013. Indeed, Congress 
     has made multiple GAO requests regarding the applicability of 
     the CRA to guidance documents when the guidance was 
     originally issued or shortly thereafter. Subjecting these 
     actions to the CRA now would fly in the face of congressional 
     intent and stretch the law in ways that were neither 
     anticipated nor expected by those who voted for it.
       Moreover, it raises suspicions that this CRA challenge is 
     being undertaken now, rather than following the issuance of 
     the guidance in 2013, because there is a higher chance of 
     success given the makeup of this Congress.
       Moreover, applying the CRA to long-established guidance 
     would be, simply put, wrongheaded. Guidance documents are 
     often specifically requested by regulated entities and 
     industry stakeholders in order to resolve uncertainties in 
     the application of regulations to stakeholder business 
     practices, including in the form of so-called ``No Action 
     Letters''. Using the CRA to repeal guidance documents would 
     imperil numerous past guidance documents that were not 
     submitted to Congress under the CRA, including many that were 
     specifically requested by regulated entities or stakeholders. 
     Congress should act with caution, if at all, in using the CRA 
     on guidance documents, but applying the CRA to longstanding 
     guidance would be misguided.
       Long-established guidance is not locked into place; when 
     appropriate, it is a relatively simple matter for agencies to 
     revise or repeal longstanding guidance. In fact, agencies 
     have already begun the process of revising or repealing 
     another guidance document that was the subject of a recent 
     GAO opinion, the so-called ``leveraged lending'' guidance 
     which ensures that big banks do not engage in risky lending 
     practices that threaten the financial system, without any 
     need for a CRA vote.
       Given the long and growing list of legislative issues that 
     need to be addressed by the Senate on an urgent and expedited 
     basis, it is difficult to fathom why the Senate would choose 
     to spend valuable floor time to repeal guidance under the CRA 
     when such guidance could be effectively revisited, and if 
     appropriate, repealed by the agency that issued it in short 
     order and with limited procedural requirements. By bringing 
     this vote to the Senate floor, it sends a message to the 
     public that Congress is more interested in giving narrow 
     handouts to special interests rather than addressing the real 
     issues that impact hard-working Americans and their families.
       We, the under-signed groups, strongly urge Senators to 
     reject abusing the CRA to attack guidance documents that were 
     issued years ago, and get back to solving real problems on 
     behalf of the American public. We strongly urge you to reject 
     S.J. Resolution 57.
       Alaska Wilderness League, American Association for Justice, 
     American Bird Conservancy, American Federation of Teachers, 
     American Sustainable Business Council, Americans for 
     Financial Reform, Center for American Progress Action Fund, 
     Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Progressive 
     Reform, Center for Responsible Lending, Citizens' 
     Environmental Coalition, Clean Water Action, Coalition on 
     Human Needs, Communications Workers of America (CWA), 
     Conservation Lands Foundation, Consumer Action, Consumer 
     Federation of America, Consumers for Auto Reliability and 
     Safety, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice.
       EarthRights International, Endangered Species Coalition, 
     Environmental Working Group, Family Equality Council, Food & 
     Water Watch, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 
     Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, International 
     Corporate Accountability Roundtable, League of Conservation 
     Voters, NAACP, National Association of Consumer Advocates, 
     National Association of Social Workers, National Audubon 
     Society, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center 
     for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, 
     National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income 
     clients), National Employment Law Project, National Law 
     Center on Homelessness & Poverty, National LGBTQ Task Force 
     Action Fund.
       National Organization for Women, National Women's Law 
     Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Network for 
     Environmental & Economic Responsibility of United Church of 
     Christ, Northcoast Environmental Center, Progressive Congress 
     Action Fund, Public Citizen, Publish What You Pay--US, Safe 
     Alternatives for our Forest Environment, Soda Mountain 
     Wilderness Council, South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership, 
     Tennessee Citizen Action, Texas Appleseed, The Center for 
     Auto Safety, The Lands Council, The Wilderness Society, U.S. 
     PIRG, Umpqua Watersheds, Inc., Union of Concerned Scientists, 
     United Steelworkers, Western Environmental Law Center, 
     WildEarth Guardians, Woodstock Institute, and Young 
     Invincibles.
                                  ____

                                                   April 16, 2018.
     Majority Leader McConnell,
     Russell Senate Office Building,
     Washington, DC.
     Minority Leader Schumer,
     Hart Senate Office Building,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer: 
     We, the undersigned civil rights and consumer advocacy

[[Page S2207]]

     organizations, ask you to oppose S.J. Res. 57, the 
     Congressional Review Act (CRA), introduced by Senator Jerry 
     Moran (R-KS), intended to undo the Consumer Financial 
     Protection Bureau's (CFPB or Consumer Bureau) Indirect Auto 
     Lending Guidance, published over five years ago. This 
     resolution is the latest in a series of attempts to chill 
     federal efforts to end widespread unlawful discrimination. 
     Discrimination in the auto lending market is well-documented 
     and results in people of color paying more for years to 
     finance a car purchase. This CRA would also set the dangerous 
     precedent of undoing long-standing federal agency guidance--
     an expansion of the use of the Congressional Review Act, and 
     certainly beyond its original purpose of narrowly reviewing 
     regulations soon after they were enacted.
       The Consumer Bureau's 2013 indirect auto lending guidance 
     put auto lenders on clear notice that the Equal Credit 
     Opportunity Act (ECOA) makes them liable for discriminatory 
     pricing on auto loans they acquire from auto dealers. ECOA 
     makes it illegal for a creditor to discriminate in any aspect 
     of a credit transaction on the basis of race or other 
     protected bases; indirect auto lenders are creditors under 
     ECOA.
       Discrimination in auto lending has long been widespread, 
     and a significant culprit is the discretionary dealer mark-
     up. Three-fourths of all consumers use a loan to purchase a 
     car, and 80% of auto loans are financed through the auto 
     dealer. The auto dealer may provide that financing directly 
     or it may facilitate indirect financing by an indirect third-
     party lender. In indirect auto financing, the dealer usually 
     collects basic information regarding the applicant and uses 
     an automated system to forward that information to several 
     prospective indirect auto lenders. The indirect auto lender 
     establishes a ``buy rate'' for the customer. The dealer can 
     then add as much as 2-2.5% to the buy rate and keep some or 
     all of the difference. These mark-ups have been found to add 
     over $25 billion to the total loan cost of auto loans made 
     over the course of one year.
       The discriminatory impact of this discretionary practice 
     has been researched and documented, time and again. In the 
     mid-1990s, a series of lawsuits were filed against the 
     largest auto finance companies based on data showing that 
     that borrowers of color were twice as likely to have their 
     loans marked up and paid markups twice as large as similarly 
     situated white borrowers with similar credit ratings. The 
     CFPB's own investigations found that borrowers who identified 
     as African American, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander paid 
     between 20 and 36 basis points more for their loans than 
     similarly situated white borrowers, adding between $150 and 
     $300 in additional interest over the life of those consumers' 
     loans.
       We have seen the evidence that enforcement against auto 
     lending discrimination has resulted in real benefits to 
     wronged borrowers of color. As a result of its 
     investigations, the Consumer Bureau, jointly with the 
     Department of Justice, took enforcement action against Ally 
     Financial, Honda, Fifth Third Bank, and Toyota, which 
     resulted in restitution to wronged borrowers of over $140 
     million. These lenders also agreed to adjust their pricing 
     models by limiting the amount of their dealer mark-ups--real 
     evidence of progress in the fight against a discriminatory 
     lending practice. Of note, the 2013 guidance also explains 
     that lenders can address fair lending risk by paying 
     compensation to dealers in ways other than allowing them to 
     mark up the interest rate.
       Discrimination in auto lending continues to be a very real 
     problem. In early 2018, a study conducted by the National 
     Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) paired white and non-white 
     testers to visit auto dealerships and shop for the same car 
     within 24 hours of each other. The study found that, more 
     often than not, the better qualified non-white applicant was 
     offered higher cost pricing options than the less qualified 
     white applicant, resulting in those non-white borrowers 
     paying on average $2,662 more than the white borrowers over 
     the life of the loan. Additionally, NFHA found that 75% of 
     the time, white testers were offered more financing options 
     than non-white testers. These statistics further prove the 
     need for continued vigilant enforcement against violations of 
     ECOA, as well as clear expectations for industry like the 
     2013 guidance provides.
       Auto loans are the third most prevalent form of debt among 
     U.S. residents after home and student loans. Discrimination 
     in auto lending contributes to credit access disparities and 
     to the racial and ethnic wealth gap. This CRA would send the 
     wrong message to the auto industry and to the American 
     people.
       In addition, CRA has never been used to undo longstanding 
     guidance, and it was not intended to be used this way. 
     Permitting CRAs to undo longstanding guidance opens the door 
     to regulatory uncertainty across the federal regulatory 
     environment and across a range of U.S. markets as a result.
       We urge you to oppose S.J. Res. 57 and keep the federal 
     government's commitment to rooting out racial discrimination 
     clear.
       Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions 
     please do not hesitate to contact Cheye-Ann Corona, Senior 
     Policy Associate with the Center for Responsible Lending,
           Sincerely,
       Allied Progress, American Federation of State, County, and 
     Municipal Employees, Americans for Financial Reform, 
     Arkansans Against Abusive Payday Lenders, California 
     Reinvestment Coalition, Center for Responsible Lending, Color 
     of Change, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, 
     Impact Fund, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 
     NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
       NACA--Ohio State Chair, National Association for Equal 
     Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), National Association 
     of Social Workers, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, 
     National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income 
     clients), National Urban League, Public Citizen, Public Good 
     Law Center, Public Justice Center, Texas Appleseed, The 
     Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, U.S. PIRG, 
     UnidosUS, and United Church of Christ.

  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, Americans for Financial Reform called this 
resolution ``a deeply troubling piece of legislation that will leave 
millions of people of color at the mercy of auto-dealers and lenders 
with a long history of racial discrimination.''
  I know a lot of auto dealers, and I am sure my friend from Idaho, 
Senator Crapo, does as well. We all do. Most of them don't do this, but 
some of them do, and why are we allowing the some of them who do to 
continue to do this?
  If Republicans are willing to use this loophole that a few very smart 
Republicans uncovered--this loophole that they went down in the weeds 
and figured out how to exploit--if they are willing to use this 
loophole to attack our basic right to equality, there may be no end to 
the other consumer protections they can repeal. Big corporations could 
be free to take advantage of customers with little to rein them in, 
with fewer consumer protections and with fewer environmental 
protections.
  Think of the progress we have made in this country because of 
consumer protection, because of strong safe drinking water laws, and 
because of strong clean air laws. I live 10 miles from Lake Erie. I 
know about the progress, in part because we passed strong laws for 
environmental protection. I know what we have done to clean up Lake 
Erie.
  The Great Lakes are 20 percent of all the ground and surface 
freshwater in the world. I look at what we have done as a society. Do 
we want to go back on this as the President cuts funding to clean up 
the Great Lakes? The EPA issues guidelines today to ensure that 
corporate polluters aren't putting communities in danger by 
contaminating the air they breathe or the water they drink. States rely 
on Federal guidance--the key word--so they can work with the Federal 
Government to provide healthcare to families and children. Workers rely 
on guidance from the Department of Labor to make sure they are getting 
fair pay in a safe workplace. But under the legislation before us 
today, those protections could be stripped away in the future, one by 
one by one.
  Every time somebody here wants to do a favor for their favorite 
special interest group, they can go down to Senator McConnell's office, 
probably pick up a ticket--because there is probably going to be a 
line, with all the lobbyists going in and out--they will pick up a 
ticket to say, which special interest group can I do a favor for today, 
and they will find another one.
  For the millions who lost their jobs, for the millions who lost their 
homes in the financial crisis a decade ago, for the millions who are 
struggling to build their retirement with wages that haven't been 
growing for more than 20 years, it is already hard enough to get ahead. 
We should be making it easier for them, not harder.
  I ask for a ``no'' vote.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, today is tax day, not typically a day of 
celebration for anyone, with maybe the exception of the IRS. But this 
year there is--believe it or not--something to celebrate because tax 
day 2018 marks the end of the old tax system.
  Next year, Americans will be filling out their taxes under the new 
tax system that was created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That means 
that they will be paying less in taxes and keeping more of their hard-
earned money.

[[Page S2208]]

  If anything became clear during the last election cycle, it was that 
the economy was not working well for American families. In CNN exit 
polling, 62 percent of voters rated the economy as poor, and that 
wasn't surprising. The Obama administration was tough for American 
workers. Job creation was sluggish, wages were stagnant, and economic 
growth lagged far behind the pace of other recoveries. Opportunities 
for workers were few and far between. It is no wonder that so many 
hard-working Americans felt like they had been left behind.
  Republicans were listening, and one of our top priorities in this 
Congress has been improving the economic outlook for the American 
people, which is why last fall we took up tax reform.
  The Tax Code may not be the first thing people think of when they 
think of economic prosperity, but it actually plays a key role in 
determining the success of individual families and of our economy as a 
whole. The more money the Federal Government takes from you in taxes, 
the less money you have to pay bills or to buy a house or repair your 
car or save for retirement. The more money a business has to give to 
the Federal Government, the less money it has to grow the business and 
to invest in its workers.
  So when it came time to draft a tax bill, Republicans had two goals. 
First, we wanted to put more money in the pockets of hard-working 
Americans right away. Second, we wanted to create the kind of economy 
that would give Americans access to economic security over the long 
term.
  Now, I am proud to report that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has already 
achieved the first goal and is well on its way to achieving the second. 
To put more money in Americans' pockets, we lowered tax rates across 
the board and nearly doubled the standard deduction--the amount of 
Americans' income that is automatically free from taxation.
  We also acted to provide relief for parents, who are doing the hard 
work of raising the next generation, by doubling the child tax credit 
and allowing more parents to claim the credit. We eliminated the 
individual mandate tax, which disproportionately hit low-income 
families. We also made sure to protect key retirement savings plans--
401(k)s and individual retirement accounts--and we improved education 
savings accounts, allowing families to use their 529 plans to save for 
elementary and secondary as well as higher education.
  Thanks to the IRS's new withholding tables and its new withholding 
calculator, Americans have already started seeing the new tax relief in 
their paychecks.
  For a lot of Americans, that is not all they are seeing in their 
paychecks. A lot of Americans are also seeing pay increases or bonuses 
thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  That brings me to our second reform goal, which was creating the kind 
of economy that would give Americans access to economic security and 
prosperity for the long term. We knew that the only way to give 
Americans access to real long-term economic security was to ensure that 
they had access to good jobs, good wages, and real opportunities. We 
knew that the only way to guarantee access to good jobs, wages, and 
opportunities was to make sure that businesses had the ability to 
create and maintain them.
  But before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, our Tax Code wasn't helping 
businesses to create jobs or to increase opportunities for workers. In 
fact, it was doing the opposite, and that had real consequences for 
American workers.
  A small business owner struggling to afford the hefty annual tax bill 
for her business was highly unlikely to be able to hire a new worker or 
to raise wages. A larger business struggling to stay competitive in the 
global marketplace while paying a substantially higher tax rate than 
its foreign competitors too often had limited funds to expand or 
increase investment here in the United States.
  So when it came time for tax reform, we set out to improve the 
playing field for American workers by improving the playing field for 
businesses as well. To accomplish that, we lowered tax rates across the 
board for owners of small and medium-sized businesses and farms and 
ranches. We lowered our Nation's massive corporate tax rate which, up 
until January 1, was the highest corporate tax rate in the developed 
world. We expanded business owners' ability to recover investments they 
make in their businesses, which frees up cash they can reinvest in 
their operations and their workers.
  We brought the U.S. international tax system into the 21st century by 
replacing our outdated worldwide system with a modernized territorial 
tax system so that American businesses are not operating at a 
disadvantage relative to their foreign competitors.
  The goal in all of this was to free up businesses to increase 
investments in the U.S. economy, to hire new workers, and to increase 
wages and benefits, and that is exactly what they are doing.
  In response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, more than 500 companies 
across this country, and counting, have announced good news for 
American workers. Company after company has announced pay raises, 
bonuses, 401(k) match increases, and other benefits.
  Others are expanding their businesses and investing in new equipment 
and facilities. Still others are passing tax savings on to their 
customers in the form of things like utility rate cuts. That means more 
money for Americans now and more money for Americans in the future.
  Tax day may never be a fun day, but Americans can take heart because 
thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, next year's tax day is going to be 
a lot less painful.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to address the CRA 
we voted to proceed to and on which we will vote for final passage 
tomorrow. It is a Congressional Review Act resolution that will allow 
us to repeal an ill-conceived CFPB regulation.
  Let me start with just a word about the CFPB because this is an 
agency that is fundamentally flawed in its design and has been so since 
day one.
  First, there is a single individual director. There is no bipartisan 
commission. There is no board. There is no need for consensus. There is 
one-man rule.
  Secondly, this one individual can only be removed for cause. He is 
part of the executive branch, but the Chief Executive can't fire him. 
This makes no sense.
  Finally, the entire CFPB--this huge regulatory agency--is subject to 
no meaningful oversight. They are not dependent on Congress--the 
people's representatives--for taxpayer funding. They just draw whatever 
they want out of the Fed, which means the Fed has that much less to 
hand over to the Treasury. An individual, rather than a commission, no 
ability to remove, except for cause, and not subject to appropriation--
it is a recipe for a disaster. That is what we have had.

  It is not just my opinion, by the way. A three-judge panel of the DC 
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this structure is fundamentally 
unconstitutional. I will quote briefly from their decision. They said: 
``The CFPB's [concentration of] enormous executive power in a single, 
unaccountable, unchecked Director not only departs from settled 
historical practice, but also poses a far greater risk of arbitrary 
decision making and abuse of power, and a far greater threat to 
individual liberty, than does a multi-member independent agency.''
  Fortunately, we have an Acting Director at the moment who gets this. 
Mick Mulvaney has testified about these very flaws in the CFPB and 
suggested, as many of us have, at least some structural reforms, making 
the CFPB subject to appropriations so Congress has meaningful 
oversight; requiring that the major rules they pass be subject to a 
legislative approval, which is Congress taking responsibility for the 
action Congress delegates; giving the President the ability to hire and 
fire a Director; and having an independent inspector general so we have 
a watchdog.
  This is the least we should do. Our colleagues on the other side have 
not been willing to agree to any of them, so we have this badly flawed 
agency. It shouldn't be surprising that a flawed structure leads to 
badly flawed policies. That is why we are here discussing this CRA. It 
is about the indirect auto lending guidance, as it is called, that the 
CFPB issued some time ago.

[[Page S2209]]

  Let me explain a little bit about what this is. Indirect auto 
lending--what is that? Direct auto lending is what you might think. It 
is when a consumer, a buyer--someone who wants to buy a car--goes to a 
bank and lines up financing from the bank. That would be direct auto 
financing. Indirect auto financing is when the car dealer provides the 
arrangement of the financing for you. The actual financing is 
ultimately performed by a lending institution, but the car dealer makes 
the arrangements.
  Indirect auto loans are actually very good for consumers for a 
variety of reasons. No. 1, it is very convenient. You don't have to 
shop around to a bunch of banks, as well as a bunch of car dealers. You 
get one-stop shopping, and you have both.
  No. 2, it tends to be more competition for the consumers' loan. How 
many banks are you going to realistically go out and visit when you are 
attempting to line up your financing? But the car dealer can routinely 
canvass all the available lending options and make sure the consumer 
gets the best possible deal.
  Finally, as a routine matter of practice, dealers have always been 
able to discount the loan as one of the negotiating provisions in a 
multipart transaction. That is important to stress here. The nature of 
the car-buying experience--for any of us who have done it--very 
typically, there are several moving parts, several transactions. There 
is the purchase price you negotiate for the vehicle you are buying and 
the trade-in value for the vehicle you are parting with. There is the 
value of other services you may negotiate for. It is not possible to 
judge the overall economics of a transaction like this unless you know 
all of the components. The interest rate you pay on the loan is but one 
of several important components.
  Along comes the CFPB. In December of 2013, they issued a bulletin 
that is an attempt to regulate the indirect auto lending. In this, they 
warned lenders of a disparate impact liability.
  Let me explain briefly what this means. First of all, if lending 
policy is discriminatory, it is illegal. If there is discrimination on 
the basis of any protected class--and that would include race, sex, 
age, gender, and other things--it is illegal. What the CFPB came along 
and said is, even if the lending policy is not discriminatory--not on 
its face, it is nondiscriminatory--you can still be liable for the 
violation of the law if the CFPB thinks there is a protected class, 
some category of people, who are paying, on average, a higher interest 
rate on their loan. This is the disparate impact theory the CFPB used 
in order to attempt to end the ability of auto dealers to discount 
loans as part of a negotiated transaction on a car purchase.
  Why is this so problematic? There are two categories. First is the 
very process by which the CFPB came up with this rule. First of all, it 
is actually a guidance, not a rulemaking. What does that mean? That 
means they chose not to follow the law, the Administrative Procedure 
Act, that requires an agency go through a very systematic and public 
process of getting a lot of input and review on a proposed law, 
proposed rule, before it goes into effect.
  For very good reason, we require regulators to get public input, to 
give experts, consumers, and people engaged in the business the 
opportunity to examine the rule under consideration and provide some 
feedback as to whether there might be unforeseen consequences or flaws 
in it. They did none of this. The CFPB did not consult with the other 
regulators, as they are required by Dodd-Frank, nor did they do a cost-
benefit analysis, which is also required by Dodd-Frank. They surprised 
the industry and the consumers by fundamentally reinterpreting how the 
anti-discrimination legislation would be interpreted.
  Why did they do this? Why did they take this approach? Why did they 
circumvent the Administrative Procedure Act? It is a convenient way to 
avoid scrutiny. It is a convenient way to impose one's will without 
public scrutiny, without any analysis.
  This is a very bad process and, not surprisingly, the outcome is 
equally bad. The methodology they used to determine discrimination on 
the basis of race is really amazing. Since there is no information 
about the race of a borrower in financing for a vehicle, the lenders 
don't know the race of the borrowers, literally. They have no idea. 
Neither does the CFPB, but that didn't stop them from alleging racial 
discrimination. They developed a methodology, a system, where they 
attempt to guess the race of a car buyer who is financing the purchase 
of a car through a loan. They tried to guess their race based on the 
last name and geography. They assign a probability to a person being 
African American or Hispanic or European American or whatever based on 
a surname and geography.

  This is a wildly flawed process, which quite predictably led to huge 
errors. Independent, outside analysis has concluded that their error 
rates could be as high as 40 percent. So 40 percent of the people they 
would designate as African American, in fact, are not, or 40 percent of 
the people they would designate as European American, in fact, are not. 
It is not just that they got their guesstimate wrong about race, but 
the manner in which they got it wrong led to the wrong and erroneous 
conclusion. In other words, there were systemic flaws that completely 
invalidated their conclusions.
  Finally, and maybe in some ways most important, they willfully chose 
to ignore all the other components of the transaction. They allege that 
someone was adversely impacted because they paid a higher rate of 
interest on a loan, but they have no idea what the purchase price on 
the vehicle was. They have no idea what the trade-in was for the used 
vehicle. They have no idea what other services were being offered.
  This gets worse. The CFPB decided they needed to make an example of 
someone so they could terrorize the industry into ending this practice 
of discounting interest rates, and they found a good victim. The 
Federal Government owned about 74 percent of Ally Bank at the time. 
They had an application before the Fed to change their corporate 
organization, which they needed to do. They needed to complete that; 
otherwise, they would have to shed whole business lines. It is a long, 
complicated story. Suffice it to say, Ally Bank's future existence, as 
it was formed, depended on an approval from the Fed for what should 
have been a routine change in corporate structure. The Fed made it 
clear they weren't going to grant that change until there was a 
settlement with the CFPB, so Ally Bank was over a barrel. That was 
exactly what the CFPB wanted. Five days before the deadline, which 
would have required Ally Bank to divest itself of whole categories of 
business, the CFPB shakes them down for $100 million. Four days later, 
the Fed approves the application. The CFPB found its opportunity, made 
its example, and it had a chilling effect on the market.
  Let me wrap this up with what we are talking about here. It is an 
unaccountable, out-of-control agency that circumvented the proper 
rulemaking process in order to avoid public scrutiny about what they 
were trying to do. They imposed their will on an industry that the 
Dodd-Frank legislation explicitly forbid them from regulating. They 
developed a badly flawed methodology to allege discrimination on the 
part of lenders on the basis of race, despite the fact that the lenders 
didn't know the race of the borrowers. They picked a victim who 
couldn't fight back. They hit the victim with a $100 million fine 
without the CFPB knowing that any individual was actually unfairly 
treated by Ally Bank. It didn't matter.
  Who ultimately pays the price for this kind of behavior? The very 
consumers the CFPB is supposed to be serving. Under this very flawed 
rule of the CFPB, the goal was to effectively prevent auto dealers from 
being able to discount the interest rate on a loan, being unable to 
compete with a bank down the road that might be offering a lower rate, 
being unable to negotiate a term that might be helpful to a borrower.
  Consumers under the CFPB's rule have fewer options, less flexibility, 
reduced access to credit, and higher costs. That is why Congress should 
overturn this. This is our opportunity to set this right. The House 
voted 332 to 96 to repeal this rule. We can do this tomorrow.
  Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have complained about 
the use of a CRA in application to a guidance issue. Our Democratic 
colleagues

[[Page S2210]]

themselves attempted to do this exact same thing with respect to a chip 
guidance that was issued some years ago, and they were perfectly OK 
with it then. I don't see why they can't be OK with it now.
  It is important to note what this resolution does not do. It does not 
change, in any way, the legitimate enforcement of the Equal Credit 
Opportunity Act. It doesn't amend that act. It doesn't change 
regulation B. The enforcement of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act would 
simply continue as it had gone for 30-plus years. Discrimination in 
credit providing has been illegal and will continue to be illegal when 
we successfully pass this CRA.
  I thank Senator Moran and Will Ruder from his staff, John Crews from 
my staff. I thank Terry van Doren from Leader McConnell's staff for his 
help. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this important 
Congressional Review Act resolution.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.


                               Tax Reform

  Mr. PERDUE. Mr. President, today is tax day, 2 days later than April 
15 actually, but nonetheless, today is tax day. I rise to speak about 
the impact of what we have done over the last 15 months to affect the 
future of our free enterprise system in America. When President Donald 
Trump took office last year, he set out with three clear priorities. 
Under the major objective last year, job one was to grow the economy. 
To do that, he charged us in Congress to focus on three things: 
regulations, energy, and taxes. In addition to those three, we were 
supposed to try to get to Dodd-Frank and take away some of the pressure 
on small banks and regional banks, which we have done this year in the 
Senate. Just a few weeks ago, we passed a bill. The reason that is 
important, those four things will free up some estimated $6 trillion in 
potential capital investment that has not been at work in our $20 
trillion economy.
  What we have just done with regulation, energy, and taxes will free 
up or have the opportunity to free up the $6 trillion. That is huge in 
this economy. In the regulatory environment last year, well over 860 
regulations were reversed. It is the largest in history. Concrete steps 
have been taken to unleash our country's full energy potential, 
including with ANWR, the Keystone Pipeline, and adjustments to the 
Clean Power Plan and the waters of the United States, just to mention a 
few.

  Finally, historic changes to the Tax Code were signed into law by 
President Trump. It used to be that today was a bad day in America, and 
we all dreaded it. It was the day we had to turn our taxes in. This 
year, it is actually a day of good news in that this is the last time 
the American people will have to file their taxes by using the old, 
outdated tax system that has become so archaic and so noncompetitive 
with the rest of the world. These changes to the Tax Code will bring 
relief to American workers and businesses. The average, median-income 
household in America--a family of four--will see its taxes reduced by 
about $2,000 a year, or more than half.
  The change to the Tax Code of making our tax rate more competitive is 
making American-made goods much more competitive on the world stage. 
The greatest hindrance to and the greatest tax on the American worker 
in years past was this archaically high corporate tax rate. People 
said: Well, we just pushed all of those profits to the corporate 
entities. No, this is the greatest thing we could do for the American 
worker--to help them become more competitive with the rest of the 
world, to give them a level playing field. That is what we did in this 
tax bill.
  We are already seeing the early positive results. Over 2 million new 
jobs have been created since President Trump took office, and consumer 
confidence is at a 17-year high. As an ex-retailer and a person who has 
worked with consumer products and in manufacturing for most of his 
career, I have watched this index. This is phenomenal to be at a 17-
year high this early in this turnaround. It bodes well for the future 
of what we have just done.
  CEO confidence is at a 20-year high. Some $2 trillion in overseas 
profits has potentially been unlocked to be made available now for 
capital investment back in this country. Yes, we already see public 
corporations making public statements in their quarterly earnings 
reviews about the capital investment plans they are laying out. We see 
investment increases being announced every month from public companies 
in America today. There is no question that businesses are beginning to 
bring those profits home and investing in our economy.
  Nationally, in addition, over 4 million Americans have received 
bonuses and wage increases. Over 500 businesses have taken positive 
action, be it by giving out bonuses, raising wages, increasing 401(k) 
matches, or increasing their overall investments in their companies.
  As a matter of fact, another benefit is that most of these public 
corporations have major foundations that do philanthropic work--
tremendously constructive philanthropic work. Most of these companies 
that have made these announcements about their own financial well-being 
and those of their employees have also dramatically increased their 
contributions to those philanthropic efforts and those trust funds.
  In my home State of Georgia, dozens of companies are taking action 
because of these changes to the Tax Code, and they are making these 
statements public. Just go to any public corporation today that is in 
its latest quarterly return and look at what it is saying about how 
this tax change affects its business and the future of its employees. 
This is huge.
  It is also huge for the entire country because we are much more 
competitive today than we have been. For years the Tax Code was working 
against American workers and our entire economy. It was crippling small 
businesses' ability to expand their companies and hire more workers. It 
was damaging our ability to compete with the rest of the world. 
Changing the Tax Code last year was the single greatest thing we could 
have done to have unleashed economic growth this year, and we are just 
getting started.
  I have been through some of these large turnarounds, and I 
characterize this as a mega turnaround. After 8 years of the lowest 
economic growth in U.S. history, we are now on the rebound. That is so 
important for the future of our country in the long term. We have a $21 
trillion debt today, as the Presiding Officer knows. One of the things 
we have to do in order to dig our way out of that is to get our economy 
healthy again. As documented by the CBO, or the Congressional Budget 
Office, a 1-percent growth in GDP will yield $300 billion of Federal 
revenue every year. That is $3 trillion over the next decade. With the 
projection that we are going to add $10 trillion to the debt over the 
next decade just from decisions that have been made over the last 
decade, we can see that just growing the economy alone is not enough to 
solve this debt crisis.
  There are some in this body who have argued that this has been 
nothing but a boondoggle, nothing but a huge deficit-increasing 
exercise. Yes, there were identified costs included with this, but what 
was not considered by the CBO was the long-term return on investment, 
the leverage effect of that return on investment, or the leverage 
effect of this returning profit situation that we have coming back from 
the changes in the repatriation law. In addition to that, the CBO 
disagreed with using the impact of foreign direct investment, which I 
really don't understand.
  I am proud that we got this tax bill done, and I know that the 
positive impact is really just beginning. There are other things we 
must do to deal with our national debt in the long term, like fixing 
our budget process, cutting back on redundant agencies, saving Social 
Security and Medicare, and finally getting after the spiraling nature 
of the underlying drivers of our healthcare costs and not just the 
insurance of it.
  This wouldn't be happening without these changes to the Tax Code, 
however, and without a President with a new perspective in the White 
House. President Trump worked in the real world for decades, and he 
brings that sense of urgency to the White House. Today he is working at 
a business pace, not at a bureaucratic pace, and he is committed to 
keeping up the positive momentum.
  This year, the pressure is on the other side because, right now, as 
we are

[[Page S2211]]

trying to deal with immigration, the labor issue might be a 
constraining factor in the ultimate growth of this economy, and we need 
to deal with that. For different reasons, both sides believe we need to 
be investing in infrastructure. I will remind my colleagues in this 
body that it was just in 2011 when this government threw $1 trillion 
into our economy. I would debate the benefit of that particular 
investment because it was not thrown at those stimulative issues that 
would grow the economy.
  Today, America deals with a new world. The world situation has never 
been more dangerous. The best thing we can do for our military and for 
our people is to get this economy moving again and create a level 
playing field around the world to help our trade situation. That is 
what the President is trying to do right now--to create a more level 
playing field so as to grow our economy, fix our budget process, and 
deal with the spending issues that we have here at home.
  I am excited to be a part of the Joint Select Committee on Budget 
Process Reform, which is charged with changing the way we fund the 
Federal Government every year. I am hopeful that will lead to a new 
budget process that will allow us to avoid the continuing resolutions 
and the omnibuses by which five or six people get in a room and decide 
how to spend $1 trillion. The tax changes alone will not dig us out of 
this debt crisis. We knew that this was the first step in getting it 
going, and I am delighted with the impact that it is having on our 
economy today.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Flake). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PERDUE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________