The Department of Education announced Friday it would stop sharing student loan data under an Obama-era agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and called that agenda "overreaching and unaccountable."
In a letter sent Friday to bureau director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee, Acting Assistant Secretary Kathleen Smith of the Office of Postsecondary Education and Office of Federal Student Aid chief operating officer Wayne Johnson accused the CFPB of interfering with the department's jurisdiction by getting involved in student loan complaints and said that was creating "confusion" for borrowers.
The bureau, they alleged, has used the data "to expand its jurisdiction into areas Congress never envisioned. This latest expansion is characteristic of an overreaching and unaccountable agency."
Friday's missive is the latest Republican effort to counter Cordray's regulatory agenda.
The GOP has fought Cordray every step of the way as he has led the bureau as its first director. The conflict has only intensified since President Trump replaced Obama.
In recent weeks, congressional Republicans have suggested that Cordray might be rushing several significant rules in order to return to his home state of Ohio to run for governor. He's denied that politics have played a role in the bureau's regulatory work. At the same time, the GOP has advanced legislation to significantly curtail the agency's power, and some lawmakers have called on Trump to fire him.
Trump has not obliged. But Friday's letter was a clear statement from within the administration of disapproval of the bureau under Cordray.
Smith is a former staffer to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Johnson is the former CEO of a private student loan company.
Under Cordray, the agency has been active in student loan markets.
In January, for instance, the bureau announced it was suing the country's largest student loan servicer for cheating customers for years. It has considered new rules for private-sector servicers of federal student debt. More generally, it has warned of "widespread failures" in the servicing of federal student loans, and mulled reforms.
Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Education Department has moved in the opposite direction, seeking to rewrite requirements that for-profit schools meet certain criteria to be eligible for aid and undoing Obama administration efforts to impose rules on student loan servicers.
The CFPB did not respond to a request for comment late Friday afternoon.