* Elizabeth Warren defends independent funding for CFPB
* Offers reassurances to chamber on business competition
* Top US House Republican says he is "anxious ... angry"
* JPMorgan's Dimon: Dodd-Frank poses huge costs for banks
(Adds Weller, Donohue, Dimon comments, background)
By Kevin Drawbaugh
WASHINGTON, March 30 Elizabeth Warren went
before some of her sharpest critics on Wednesday to defend the
independent funding of the U.S. financial consumer watchdog
agency she is setting up for the Obama administration.
At a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event attended by scores of
financial industry lobbyists keen to rein in her agency, Warren
said she is a strong supporter of business competition and that
she believes she has that in common with the chamber.
"I know that you believe in it passionately and so do I,"
she said in the chamber's chandeliered Hall of Flags in its
headquarters near the White House. The chamber is the nation's
largest and richest business lobbying group.
"The chamber and I have not always seen eye to eye ... But
I don't consider myself in hostile territory right now, and
that is because I believe we share this principle," she said.
Her appearance at the event was the latest stop in her
charm campaign as the administration weighs whether to formally
nominate her to be director of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau (CFPB) created by 2010's Dodd-Frank reforms.
President Barack Obama has done more recently to reach out
to business, after a testy first two years in power, but the
chamber has remained a foe, analysts said.
"The chamber has been very aggressive in opposing pretty
much any policy the Obama administration has proposed," said
Christian Weller, an associate professor of public policy at
the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
"These attacks on the administration and its policies are
very surprising considering that the Obama administration has
gone out of its way to make sure that its policies will in fact
enhance the functioning of private markets," he said.
WARREN DEFENDS FUNDING
Warren used the chamber event to attack a proposal from
congressional Republicans to put the CFPB's funding through the
congressional appropriations process, instead of getting funds
independently as the Dodd-Frank legislation required.
CFPB funding should be independent of the appropriations
process, she said, as it is for other bank regulators.
"A new restriction has been proposed to subject the
consumer bureau to the yearly appropriations process. Not one
other banking regulator -- not one -- is subject to
appropriations," she said.
"There is no principled reason for breaking from this
historical practice and for stripping the independence of the
first banking agency devoted to consumer protection," said
Warren, a Harvard Law School professor.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co
(JPM.N), spoke at the event later on Wednesday. Senior White
House economic adviser Gene Sperling was also due to appear.
Dimon said corporate America was in good shape with
consumer spending up and housing improving. But he cautioned
about the impact of Dodd-Frank, saying it posed huge costs for
Chamber President Thomas Donohue, speaking at the event,
said Dodd-Frank threatens a "steady decline in our share of
global economic activity ... We're in a dangerous position."
The chamber wants the CFPB to have a five-member bipartisan
board, rather than a single director, he said, adding that
another top priority is protecting end-users of financial
derivatives from costly new Dodd-Frank margin requirements.
Donohue also urged "caution" on a central part of
Dodd-Frank -- tagging large financial institutions as potential
risks to the financial system so they can be more tightly
policed by regulators. The goal is to prevent a repeat of the
crisis that pulled the economy into a deep recession.
(Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Matthew Lewis and