WASHINGTON -- Car dealer and consumer groups are redoubling their lobbying this week as House and Senate negotiators prepare to consider an exemption for dealers from oversight by a proposed consumer finance agency.
The exemption for dealerships that help arrange financing for customers is in a sweeping financial regulation bill that passed the House, but it is not in a similar measure approved by the Senate.
The National Automobile Dealers Association has paid for advertisements this week in Automotive News, Roll Call, CQ, CongressDaily and Politico.
“DEALERS: If your senator/representative is a conferee on the Wall Street reform bill, please contact them immediately to support” the dealer exemption, said the ad in Automotive News on Monday, June 14.
Automotive News’ readers include many of NADA’s 17,000 members.
Ads running in the other newspapers say: “Millions of families rely on their hometown auto dealers to obtain financing for cars and trucks at competitive rates. New and unnecessary regulations will put affordable financing at risk.”
Roll Call, CQ, CongressDaily and Politico are widely read on Capitol Hill.
The Consumer Federation of America countered with a statement Monday containing a “consumer’s guide” to the legislation that urged Americans to lobby against the dealer exemption.
“Our troops, women and communities of color who are targeted by unscrupulous auto lenders will benefit from (Consumer Financial Protection Agency) rules that rein in abusive practices,” said the e-mailed statement from the federation, which consists of more than 280 groups.
House and Senate negotiators started to meet Thursday, June 10, to try to resolve differences between the bills, using the Senate legislation as a starting point. Democrats have said they want a final bill on President Barack Obama’s desk by July 4.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said today that the negotiators plan to consider the dealer exemption sometime next week.
The exemption would not cover financial institutions that provide auto loans or dealers that offer direct financing.
It is being opposed by Obama, the Pentagon, groups of military families, consumer advocates and civil rights organizations.
A Treasury Department paper distributed to lawmakers last month said auto customers are currently “unprotected from the minority of dealers and lenders that sell unfair auto loans with hidden fees.”
The paper singled out military families as having been “a target of unscrupulous lenders because of their demographic characteristics.”
Although the Senate passed a bill without a dealer exemption, it also approved a nonbinding recommendation to its negotiators to adopt such an exclusion.