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Cotton moves to undo CFPB's class-action rule for financial firms

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Arkansas Republican says he will use the Congressional Review Act to try to undo the rule banning arbitration in contracts for bank accounts and credit cards. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

If the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants its new rule advocating class-action lawsuits instead of arbitration to go into effect, it will have to fend off a GOP challenge to kill it legislatively.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., announced Tuesday morning that he had started the process of undoing the newly finalized arbitration rule through the Congressional Review Act, a tool that allows Congress to rescind a rule with just 51 votes in the Senate.

Some lobbyists had expected the bureau to hold off on a final rule for the reason that it could face a CRA challenge. If Republicans succeed in passing a challenge using the procedure, the rule would be stopped and the bureau would be prevented from seeking future similar rules.

The rule would prevent banks and financial firms from using clauses in contracts for bank accounts and credit cards that prevent customers from joining class-action lawsuits and instead direct them toward arbitration for disputes.

Cotton accused the bureau of "going rogue again" and said that the rule "ignores the consumer benefits of arbitration and treats Arkansans like helpless children, incapable of making business decisions in their own best interests."

His office said he was seeking out a counterpart in the House to offer a resolution under the review act. On Monday night, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said the House should pursue that course.

Republicans enjoyed success earlier this year using the Congressional Review Act to undo some of the rules that former President Barack Obama issued late in his tenure.

Not every challenge won sufficient support, however. An effort to block a CFPB rule on prepaid cards fizzled.