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Wary Lawmakers Grill Cordray Over CFPB Budget Estimates

""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) director Richard Cordray presented the agency's still-small budget Wednesday to lawmakers seated on a subcommittee of the ""House Financial Services Committee"":http://financialservices.house.gov/.

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Financial statements prepared for the subcommittee show that the CFPB used only $123 million from allowable operating expenses in fiscal year 2011.

The bureau requested about $356 million and $447 million for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Forecasts reveal that the CFPB plans to use a bulk of the operating expenses for personnel compensation. The bureau hired close to 700 employees last year, many of them transfers from other federal regulatory agencies.

Next year the bureau forecasts that it will spend close to $261 million in enforcement and supervision, roughly 22 percent more than last year.

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Consumer education and engagement will receive $126 million, nearly 50 percent more, while the bureau plans to spend 5 percent more on research capabilities at a total of about $60 million.

A tense exchange between lawmakers marked a hearing typical for such exchanges over anything related to the CFPB.

Rep. ""Spencer Bachus"":http://bachus.house.gov/ (R-Alabama), erstwhile chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, charged that the Dodd-Frank Act designed the bureau ""in a way to avoid oversight and accountability.""

He compared the bureau to the Environmental Protection Agency by saying that it has ""more sweeping authority"" and that it remains outside a political process devised to ensure proper oversight.

""This is not about personality,"" he told Cordray in opening remarks. ""This is not about Elizabeth Warren and this is not about you.""

House Republicans continue to field criticisms against the CFPB ever since President Barack Obama bypassed opposition and recess-appointed Cordray in January.

Conversations revolved around past bills cleared by House committees to rope the bureau into congressional appropriations, replace the director with a board, and concerns about accountability at Cordray's bureau.

""We are committed to fulfilling our statutory responsibilities and delivering value to American consumers. This means being accountable and using our resources wisely and carefully,"" the former Ohio attorney general told House members.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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