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Senator Warren's Remarks About Tonight's Vote on Blocking the CFPB's Forced Arbitration Rule

Oct 24, 2017

Video of the speech available here

Washington, DC -- U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor in advance of tonight's vote on whether to block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) rule on forced arbitration:

Tonight we are on the verge of passing a Republican resolution to make it easier for financial institutions to cheat people. Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule that prohibits financial companies from forcing you to sign an arbitration clause that makes you forfeit your right to take a bank to court. If this proposal passes, that rule will just disappear.

Now, here are no real human beings who think it should be easier for financial institutions to steal money from you and get away with it. Bank lobbyists are the only people asking Congress to reverse this rule. But Wall Street is awfully powerful around here. The question the American people should be asking right now is - are they powerful enough to win tonight?

The reason this vote is happening so late at night is because we're right on the verge of blocking it. The American people have watched as Wells Fargo cheated its customers and then used arbitration clauses to try and escape liability. They've watched as Equifax negligently allowed hackers to steal the personal financial information of more than half of all American adults, and then use arbitration clauses to try and escape accountability. Politicians have watched it too. And while many of their eyes might be blinded by dollar signs, it may not be enough.

There's bipartisan opposition in the Senate to turning financial institutions loose to swindle their own customers. Right now, our best guess is that it's 50-50. That means Vice President Mike Pence is on his way to the Senate to cast a tie-breaking vote.

If we can't peel off one more Republican, Mike Pence will decide whether or not consumers can hold banks like Wells Fargo accountable when they cheat their customers.

Everyone assumes that Mike Pence will side with the big banks. And I have one simple question. Why?

President Trump, Mike Pence works for you. His job is to cast his vote the way you tell him to cast it. We've spent more than a year listening to you - first as a candidate, then as a President - and you've gone on and on and on about how strong you are, how tough you are, and about how you are going to stand up to Wall Street.

Well this bill is a giant wet kiss to Wall Street. Bank lobbyists are crawling all over this place, begging Congress to vote and make it easier for them to cheat consumers. President Trump, are you really going to let Mike Pence cast a tiebreaking vote to hand big banks their biggest win in Congress since they crashed the economy nine years ago?

I follow the news stories about how tough you are, Mr. President - standing up to Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and the Republican Party. Well this is a top priority for them, Mr. President. Do you work for Mitch McConnell now? Is that the deal? Are you going to roll over and hurt millions of people in this country because Mitch McConnell tells you to?

I keep hearing that you and Steve Bannon are going to remake the Republican Party into a Party that stands up to Wall Street. Steve Bannon works with white supremacists, but hey, he's going to help you drain the swamp, right?

Well where is the all-powerful Steve Bannon now? Where is he to tell Mike Pence and Donald Trump that they don't work for Mitch McConnell?

Every organization - all the ones that represent actual human beings, not banks - want this rule to be saved. None more than the organizations that represent our veterans and our servicemembers. Do you know why that is, Mr. President? It's because they're sick and tired of being cheated by banks. They're sick and tired of politicians who say "thank you for your service" and then turn around and vote to make it harder for them to build a future for themselves and their families.

The Military Coalition, which represents more than five-and-a-half million veterans and servicemembers, supports the CFPB rule because "our nation's veterans should not be deprived of the Constitutional rights and freedoms that they put their lives on the line to protect, including the right to have their claims heard in a trial." The Coalition says that "forced arbitration is an un-American system wherein service members' claims against a corporation are funneled into a rigged, secretive system in which all the rules, including the choice of the arbitrator, are picked by the corporation," and they go on to warn that "the catastrophic consequences" these forced arbitration clauses "pose for our all-voluntary military fighting force's morale and our national security are vital reasons" to preserve the rule.

We've all seen the tweets, Mr. President. We've seen you go on and on about how disrespectful it is of our veterans and their families that some football players don't want to stand for the national anthem. Well all three of my brothers served in the military, Mr. President. Do you know what's disrespectful of our veterans and their families? Passing laws that hurt our veterans and our families. Casting tie-breaking votes for laws that are opposed by -

  • The American Legion
  • the Military Coalition
  • the Vietnam Veterans of America
  • AMVETS
  • the Association of the United States Navy
  • the Military Order of the Purple Heart
  • The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
  • The Military Child Education Coalition
  • The military veterans coalition of Indiana
  • The national association of black veterans
  • The national guard association of the united states
  • The national military family association 
  • The noncommissioned officers association
  • The reserve officers association
  • The retired enlisted association
  • Veterans for common sense
  • Veterans education success
  • Veterans legal institute
  • VETJOBS, and 
  • Vets First

President Trump, this is up to you. Don't do this. Don't let Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to hand a huge victory to Wall Street. If you do, you should be prepared for the consequences. Veterans know what it is when a politician is all talk. They know the difference between a cheap pat on the back and a real punch to the gut. And they won't forget what happens here today.

And for Steve Bannon - if this really happens today, and Mike Pence casts the deciding vote to make it easier for financial institutions to cheat people - do you want to remake the Republican Party in your image? You want to launch primary challenges against Republicans who roll over to Wall Street? You want to go after the weak and the spineless? The D.C.-Wall Street swamp? The politicians who won't stand up to Mitch McConnell? And all the "globalists" who think cash matters more than people? If Mike Pence votes for this monstrosity, why don't you primary Donald Trump? And when you're finished with him, why don't you go after Mike Pence?

Steve Bannon - put your fat wad of billionaire Mercer money where your mouth is - or stop pretending that you're anything other than what you are.

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