Following the massive Equifax data breach, multiple law suits were filed against the company. On Tuesday night, the Senate voted on allowing Americans to file class-action suits against banks instead of being forced into private arbitration.
The House voted 231 to 90 to repeal the rule using the Congressional Review Act, a mechanism that Republicans have employed under Trump to invalidate more than a dozen Obama administration regulations. Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote after the Senate tied 50-50. All Republicans except John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voted to repeal the rule. No Democrats or independents supported it.
“Our job is to look out for the people whom we serve, not to look out for Wells Fargo, not to look out for Equifax, not to look out for Wall Street banks, not to look out for corporations who scam consumers,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Many people came forward to express their views on the same:
“When people are cheated, they believe they have the right to go to court,” said Paul Bland, Executive Director of Public Justice. “The next time something like Equifax happens, those Senators are going to have to own this. There are a lot of products where people don’t have any choice.”
“We passed this resolution to protect consumers from wrongdoing, while avoiding frivolous lawsuits that will drive up costs for the millions of Americans who carry a credit card,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
“Tonight’s vote is a giant setback for every consumer in this country. Wall Street won and ordinary people lost,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said minutes after the vote. The legislation “preserves a two-tiered justice system where banks can have their day in court, but deny their customers the same right.”
“Today’s vote puts consumers first rather than class-action lawyers,” said Rob Nichols, President of the American Bankers Association. The Credit Union National Association said the rule “was just the latest example of the one-size-fits-all rulemaking coming from the CFPB and thankfully Congress acted to remedy the situation.”
“Companies like Equifax and Wells Fargo have hurt millions of consumers and tried to escape accountability using forced arbitration clauses,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, a long-time critic of Wall Street, said on the Senate floor.