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ws coverage. As predicted, the issue has come back up and now the fight has moved to the Senate.
On March 22, 2010, the Senate Banking Committee approved the financial reform package introduced by Chairman Christopher Dodd (D – Conn.), sending the bill to the floor for consideration by the full Senate sometime after April 12. This proposal for financial reform includes the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Instead of the independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency approved by the House, the Senate’s proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would act as a watchdog entity housed in the Federal Reserve Board.
Generally, the Bureau would have rulemaking, examination, and enforcement authority over banks and credit unions with total assets greater than $10 billion, mortgage-related businesses, and non-bank financial companies. More specifically, the proposal would authorize the Bureau to promulgate rules that prohibit unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices in connection with a consumer financial product or service and to require disclosures in connection with consumer financial products or services, among other things. Perhaps most important for dealers, this bill would also give the Bureau the authority to regulate auto lending, including potentially ending dealer-assisted financing.
Much like in the House, steps are being taken to protect dealers from this newest threat. Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is planning to offer an amendment to exempt dealers during Senate consideration of the financial regulation bill.
It is important to note that the Senate bill includes dealers even though:
Auto dealers did not cause the credit meltdown, and auto loans did not contribute to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Financial reform legislation should focus on what led to the economic crash in 2008, and not be used as a means to increase regulation on dealers.
The banks and finance companies that underwrite and service auto loans would be covered by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, making further regulation of auto dealers costly and unnecessary.
Effective Federal and state laws governing dealer-assisted financing already exist. Suggesting that without the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection dealers would be left unregulated is false. Dealers are subject to extensive federal regulation (e.g., the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Truth In Lending Act, etc.) and to the full range of state consumer protection statutes.
Laws and rules already make abusive practices unlawful (e.g., discriminatory lending), making creation of a new federal agency to again regulate dealers unnecessary.
Dealers are urged to call their Senators at 202-224-3121 and tell them to support the Brownback auto dealer amendment to the financial reform bill (due to the immediate timing of this piece of legislation, please do NOT write your Senators).
Pathman Lewis continues to track developments in this area and to be involved throughout this process.
As things are changing rapidly, we will continue to keep you apprised of the situation in Washington, Tallahassee and around the auto industry. In the meantime, if you have any questions, would like more information on what is happening in the industry, or if we can be of any assistance do not hesitate to contact us.
Pathman Lewis, LLP
One Biscayne Tower
2 South Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, Florida 33131
Telephone (305) 379-2425
Facsimile (305) 379-2420
Toll Free (888) 379-3459…
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