NIADA Government Affairs Report | 10/18/21
By Brett Scott, Vice President, Government Affairs
NIADA Government Report
By Brett Scott
NIADA is your voice in Washington D.C., advocating for independent dealers, the used vehicle industry and small business. Here’s a look at the latest news and NIADA efforts regarding legislative, regulatory, PAC and grass roots activities.
At press time, the heated battle in Congress over infrastructure and the massive package of social programs proposed by Democrats remained unresolved – but there was, at last, some movement.
President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) both acknowledged they are ready to reduce the scope of the $3.5 trillion bill that would vastly expand federal programs in education, health care, energy and more.
The Democrats’ goal for the new price tag is $2 trillion, which party leaders hope will be enough to get moderates such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on board.
Because they are trying to pass the resolution through the budget reconciliation process in the Senate without Republican votes, the Democrats need all 50 of their senators to support it.
The debate within the party now is what will be cut from the resolution package.
“It is essential that difficult decisions must be made very soon,” Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats, in which she suggested cutting some programs completely rather than keeping them all at reduced spending levels.
She later told reporters she was “very disappointed that we’re not going with the original $3.5 trillion, which was very transformative. … The fact is, if there are fewer dollars to spend there are choices to be made.”
Pelosi also set an Oct. 31 deadline for passing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate in August with bipartisan support.
Pelosi’s previous deadline was Sept. 27, but members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said they would vote against the bill until the reconciliation measure is passed, forcing Pelosi to delay the vote.
While the President voiced support for that tactic, it was not well received by more moderate House Democrats, who want the infrastructure bill passed immediately. That included Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, who said the delay amounts to a “breach of trust.”
It also frustrated Sinema, who said Americans “expect their lawmakers to consider legislation on its merits rather than obstruct new jobs and critical infrastructure investments for no substantive reason. What Americans have seen instead is an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal.”
Rohit Chopra, President Biden’s controversial choice to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was confirmed as director Sept. 30 in a 50-48 Senate vote split along party lines.
Chopra had been serving as one of the Federal Trade Commission’s five commissioners, a position in which he consistently pushed for stricter enforcement and harsher penalties on businesses. He was previously the CFPB’s assistant director and worked closely with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to establish the bureau.
Warren hailed the new CFPB director as “a terrific champion for consumers” and said he will be “a fearless leader of the bureau.”
Chopra’s confirmation solidifies the Administration’s aggressive approach to policing the financial sector, which was set in motion by interim director Dave Uejio and magnified by the President’s selection of consumer activist Lina Khan as FTC chairwoman.
Among the areas expected to be in Chopra’s crosshairs are debt collection, credit reporting and privacy issues.
Republicans opposed Chopra out of concern about the effect of his “regulation by enforcement” policy on American business.
“I have grave concerns that commissioner Chopra will return the CFPB to the lawless, overreaching, highly politicized agency it was during the Obama Administration,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.
Colorado: BBVA Bank and Air Academy Credit Union agreed to pay refunds to consumers for allegedly violating state law regarding fees for GAP coverage.
Colorado attorney general Phil Weiser said the financial institutions failed to return GAP fees that were improperly retained. BBVA will pay $1.68 million in refunds to 5,209 consumers, while Air Academy was still working to determine the amount it owes.
GAP covers the difference between the vehicle’s actual cash value – the maximum paid by an insurer – and the amount financed if the vehicle is totaled.
But if the consumer pays off the car loan early or the vehicle is repossessed, any payments made after that are considered “unearned GAP payments,” Weiser said, and according to the state’s consumer credit code, they must be refunded by the lender.
The attorney general’s office said it discovered BBVA and Air Academy had not been doing so.
“We are committed to protecting hard-working Coloradans, especially from unfair, deceptive and illegal practices that cause them stress, hardship, and financial losses,” Weiser said. “We will continue demanding compliance from lending institutions in Colorado to protect all consumers.”