On Tuesday, April 27, 2010, the United States Senate is expected to begin debating, and potentially amending, S. 3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. This legislation would, among other things, establish a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which would be charged with overseeing consumer protection in the home mortgages and financial services areas and it would strengthen investor protections. Similar legislation, H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed the House in December 2009.

Over the course of the debate many amendments may be offered; we are expecting some which would strengthen consumer and civil rights protections already in the bill and others which would weaken or even decimate some of the core protection provisions. It is important that we contact every U.S. Senator and urge them to support amendments which would strengthen consumer and civil rights protections and oppose amendments to weaken them.

The sad truth is that racial and ethnic minority American borrowers continue to pay more than our White peers for nearly every type of financial service, including credit cards, car loans, home mortgages and more. We also bear a disproportionate share of the consequences of the economic downturn, as demonstrated by the unemployment rate, declining income, wealth, and homeownership levels. As envisioned by the authors of S. 3217, the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would police the market on behalf of consumers and significantly improve the caliber of financial services available to all American families. If successful, the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would raise banking standards, increase oversight and accountability, enforce neglected civil rights laws and other consumer protections and improve access to credit through innovative credit, banking, and savings products.

We must now encourage the United States Senate to develop and pass a strong, pro-civil rights, pro-Consumer rights law as well. This means encouraging every Senator to:

  • support amendments to strengthen the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
  • reject efforts to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through industry carve-outs, or other forms of exemption from coverage for any particular industry; and
  • ensure that states continue to be able to pass and enforce anti-predatory lending laws that are stronger than the federal statutes.

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