Congresswoman Duckworth Introduces Bill to Protect Military Members from Abusive Financial Practices

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 9, 2015.  Yesterday, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) introduced the Military Consumer Protection Act. The legislation would empower the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to defend our Servicemembers from unscrupulous actors in the consumer financial marketplace. The Military Consumer Protection Act was also introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate.

In 1940 Congress passed The Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which provides critical financial protections for our Servicemembers while they are serving our nation. However, the GAO found that enforcement of this critical law is limited, inconsistent and subject to the discretion of various financial regulators. The Military Consumer Protection Act would strengthen the CFPB’s ability to enforce protections against actions like the termination of residential or vehicle leases, or evictions of service members and their families during active duty.

“I am proud to introduce the Military Consumer Protection Act because it protects our Servicemembers while they are risking their lives to defend us,” said Duckworth. “Unscrupulous actors in the consumer finance marketplace not only cause financial difficulty for service members and their families, but also directly impact military readiness.”

“When the Department of Defense loses qualified service members because of financial instability, they also lose mission capability and the significant investment made in training. Financial issues are one of the reasons that security clearances are denied are delayed. We cannot afford to lose some of our most talented personnel over these issues. Servicemembers deserve a strong watchdog to look after their financial well-being while they are looking out for our nation’s security.”

Duckworth is a strong advocate for protecting the financial wellbeing of Servicemembers. In 2013, Duckworth led a letter with 53 of her colleagues  to the Department of Defense calling for increased protections for members of the military from high cost loans. Last year, in response, DoD proposed a rule to extend Military Lending Act protections to all forms of credit targeting members of the military. When language delaying the rule was initially put in the NDAA, she introduced an amendmentthat removed the language and ensured protections for Servicemembers from predatory lending. The amendment passed the Armed Services Committee 32-30.

In June, Duckworth and Senator Durbin (D-IL) introduced the bipartisan Servicemember Student Loan Affordability Act.The legislation would fix a provision in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 1940 that unintentionally discourages members of the military from consolidating or refinancing pre-service student loans. 

Original cosponsors of the Military Consumer Protection Act include Rep. Keith Ellison (MI-5), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Rep. Steve Israel (NY-3), Rep. Mark Takai (HI-1), Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15), Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC),  Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Rep. Michael Capuano (MA-7), Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1), Rep. Robin Kelly (IL-02), Rep. Dan Kildee (MI-5), Rep. Michele Lujan Grisham (NM-1) and Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32).

In the Senate, the Military Consumer Protection Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Al Franken (D-MN),  Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).