As Republicans in the Senate moved forward Tuesday on legislation which would lead to millions more uninsured Americans, their colleagues in the House took a vote which got far less attention.
H.J. Res. 111, which passed the House on an almost-straight party-line vote, would allow predatory practices to return to consumer financial products. The Senate still has to pass the measure for it to take effect, but it is deeply concerning.
H.J. Res. 111 prevents the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from protecting you from a predatory practice called “mandatory” or “binding arbitration.”
Many Americans don’t learn about forced or binding arbitration until it happens to them, because binding arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of everyday contracts. Americans unknowingly sign a contract waiving their right to sue when they apply for a credit card, or get a phone, cable or internet service. It’s buried in the fine print.
We call it the “ripoff clause.”
After advocacy from consumer groups and Members of Congress (including me), the CFPB issued a rule last year to protect Americans from forced arbitration. Sadly, Republicans have now voted to end that rule, and the consumer protections it created.
If those who voted for this measure have their way, powerful corporations and special interests will again be able to keep ordinary people from getting their day in court. The measure would allow companies to circumvent the courts, and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits.
Remember when Wells Fargo created fake accounts on behalf of costumers without their consent? People couldn’t sue Wells Fargo because the contracts they signed required them to go to arbitration.
As a small business owner, I hate binding arbitration. A business doesn’t need it to succeed, it’s just unfair to your customers.
Credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions should not be able to take away our legal rights. Our judicial system should be a level playing field.
I voted against this attempt to end consumer rights, and I will keep speaking out against forced arbitration and the ripoff clause.
Rep. Donald Beyer can be reached through his website at www.beyer.house.gov, on Twitter @RepDonBeyer or his office at (202) 225-4376.