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Congressional Republicans unveil bills to bar class action rules

Congressional Republicans unveil bills to bar class action rules

(Reuters) — Republicans in the U.S. Congress are moving quickly to try to eliminate a new regulation that bars financial firms from forcing consumers into arbitration to settle disputes.

Top lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate introduced bills on Thursday to repeal the rule, finalized this week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The regulation bars financial companies from including language in their contracts that bans class action lawsuits by consumers. Republicans long critical of the CFPB argued it amounts to an unfair and overly broad intrusion into business practices that ultimately hurts consumers.

"This bad rule must be reversed," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

At the same time, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said he was offering a companion measure in that chamber. The joint effort suggests Republicans will be looking to move quickly to scrap the rule, which was formally published on Tuesday.

Both the House and Senate bills are backed by nearly every Republican member of the committees that have jurisdiction, and Rep. Hensarling said the bill will receive quick consideration in the House. The path in the Senate is less clear, with lawmakers currently consumed over health care legislation.

Republicans are attempting to repeal the rule through the Congressional Review Act that allows a new regulation to be eliminated with a simple majority in both chambers.

Republicans who control both the House and Senate have already eliminated several of former President Barack Obama's late-term regulatory initiatives using the law.

The maneuver also suggests Republicans may be quick to reverse other new CFPB rules as long as its director, Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee, remains in place.

"We will act judiciously, we will act expeditiously, to protect consumers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," said Rep. Hensarling.

Mr. Cordray's term does not expire until July 2018, and while some congressional Republicans have called on President Donald Trump to remove him, the White House has yet to act.

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