Elizabeth Warren vs. House GOP, round 3

@CNNMoney July 14, 2011: 1:23 PM ET
Elizabeth Warren makes 3rd trip to Capitol Hill

Elizabeth Warren, a special adviser to the Treasury Secretary, returns to Capitol Hill on Thursday to talk about the consumer bureau's official first steps as a new regulator.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Elizabeth Warren faced another round of tough questioning about the consumer financial protection bureau at a House hearing on Thursday, her third trip to Capitol Hill this year.

House GOP lawmakers want to curb the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and have called Warren to "finish answering questions" that some lawmakers didn't get a chance to pose to her publicly during a tense May committee hearing.

Thursday's hearing on the consumer bureau was more civil than past ones. Republicans still asked Warren questions aimed at depicting the bureau as too much big government, as when Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle of New York asked if it would "kill jobs."

"I don't think it'll cost people's jobs, I think it'll make them more secure," Warren replied.

Warren has been working long hours to prepare the bureau for its new role, which will include such tasks as inspecting the books at the nation's biggest banks that control most of the nation's mortgages.

Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the committee, said the hearing was being held to ask "whether or not the American people can feel comfortable that what was envisioned in Dodd-Frank is indeed what they want" in a consumer bureau, he said at the beginning of the hearing.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created as a part of last year's Dodd-Frank Act, which Congress passed to rewrite the financial rules of the road to prevent the next financial crisis.

The bureau's primary duty is to oversee financial products -- such as mortgages and credit cards -- and ensure they're clear, understandable and don't obscure hidden fees that consumers can't figure out.

But ever since Republicans took over the House at the start of the year, they've been focused on curbing and reversing powers of the consumer bureau, saying the new federal agency has too much power and lacks oversight.

Republicans have taken particular aim at Warren, the Harvard University professor who came up with the idea for the bureau and is a top candidate to run that new agency. They don't like that the White House appointed her to create the new bureau in an advisory position, meaning Warren is doing all the work of creating the bureau without having to weather a Senate confirmation battle.

And some speculate the White House could appoint Warren to run the bureau through the end of 2012, when the Senate is in recess in August.

Thursday's hearing is Warren's third appearance in front of a Republican-controlled panel. Warren detailed the bureau's activities, such as its work to produce a simplified mortgage form, as well as how the bureau is subject to "substantial oversight," according to her prepared testimony.

"We are working non-stop to make this an effective organization," Warren said. "We want to make prices and risks clear. We are opposed to complicated forms and fine print -- they do not work for responsible lenders."

In May, a different House panel passed a bill to curb the bureau's powers, replacing the director with a five-member panel and making it easier for other regulators to overturn new consumer bureau rules. While the bill may pass the full House, the Democratic-controlled Senate is not expected to consider it.

Another bill would change the way the bureau is funded. Currently the CFPB is funded through bank fees, making it independent and not subject to the congressional budget process.

The White House on Wednesday issued a warning that it would veto any legislation that changed or limited the way the consumer bureau is funded.

With a week to go before the new consumer bureau takes off, the White House has yet to appoint its director -- an omission that Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, asked Warren about.

Warren was careful and succinct, saying that when the director is confirmed and in place and the bureau gets all of its powers, "it will be a very good day."

-- CNN's Austin Alonzo contributed to this report. To top of page

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