Topeka — A proposal by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to exempt automobile dealers from the oversight of a proposed consumer protection agency has drawn fire from military officials and Democrat Tom Holland, who will probably face Brownback in the governor’s race.
The dispute is over part of an overhaul of U.S. financial markets being debated in Congress.
The Defense Department, credit unions and numerous military organizations want auto dealers to come under the oversight of the proposed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
“Protection from unprincipled auto lending enables our soldiers to concentrate on their primary mission — protecting our great nation,” Army Secretary John McHugh said in a letter to the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
But Brownback has proposed an amendment that would exempt auto dealers that assist customers in financing from the proposed consumer protection agency.
Holland, a Democratic state senator from Baldwin City, said that was wrong.
“The Department of Defense, along with many military support groups, oppose the Brownback Amendment because it harms our fighting men and women’s ability to be battle-ready,” he said. President Barack Obama is opposed to the amendment, too.
Brownback said his amendment, supported by the National Automobile Dealers Association, is needed because auto dealers are currently subject to federal regulation and state laws, and that unless the amendment is approved, lending could be hampered and hurt consumers by increasing the costs of vehicles. “Auto dealers are a part of Main Street, not Wall Street, and they are not responsible for the financial meltdown,” he said.
Brownback and Holland are expected to face off in the November election for governor.