Elizabeth Warren must have stayed last night on that permanent cot she has stashed at the Capitol to use the night before any of the umpteen hearings upon which she is called to testify. Once again, the House Oversight Committee welcomed Warren to a hearing on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And when I say “welcomed” I mean welcomed the opportunity to yell at her. But Democrats on the committee were ready with some misdirection.

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were prepared to take on Warren over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, set to launch next week. But before Warren began her testimony, the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, demanded that chairman Rep. Darrell Issa issue subpoenas to five of the biggest mortgage-issuing banks.

“We have a fundamental difference of opinion about what we believe is important, and who we are here to serve,” Cummings said. The Maryland Democrat defended Warren and the consumer agency, saying she was “on the side” of homeowners – particularly soldiers – who had been foreclosed upon.

Issa cited House rules and tried to move on with the hearing, but other Democrats joined Cummings.

Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), who also called for the banks’ records, said to Issa: “What part of my language do you not understand?” and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) repeatedly tried to get Issa’s attention, but the chairman ignored him.

Eventually, Issa agreed to join Cummings in writing an official document request to mortgage servicers for information on foreclosures of active duty military. Republicans turn to Jello on the military foreclosures issue. At that point the motion was pulled. The document request will seek:

All documents, including emails, relating to internal investigations, audits, and reviews conducted by or on behalf of your organization relating to foreclosure policies, procedures, or practices involving or regarding U.S. servicemembers or the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

All documents, including emails, relating to instances in which your organization sent foreclosure notices to active duty U.S. servicemembers.

All documents, including emails, relating to instances in which your organization charged improper fees or interest rates to active duty U.S. servicemembers.

With that done, Issa and company returned to their main objective of criticizing Elizabeth Warren. Issa kicked this off by holding up a fully redacted document he claimed was sought for information on CFPB (he tried this same tactic on ATF over one of their blacked-out documents). Warren calmly replied that the Treasury Department handled the request and she knew nothing about it.

This tussle with Rep. Patrick McHenry, who called Warren a liar a couple months ago, was pretty good:

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who publicly sparred with Warren over her schedule when she testified before his Oversight subcommittee in May, asked Warren whether certain financial products should be banned for being too confusing for consumers.

Warren said she wanted product terms to be accurately disclosed first and foremost.

“I am less certain that is true,” she said. “Let’s get out there and try some real disclosure … I believe in markets.”

He pressed, asking Warren if she knew of a specific financial product in existence that should be banned.

“I don’t know of one, sir,” she responded. “But if you have a particular suggestion, we’d be happy to take a look at it.”

Later on, Republicans tried to blame the sluggish economy on Warren, which is interesting, since CFPB hasn’t written one rule yet. Warren must have a lot of power!

When you can get Jim Cooper to come to the aid of a Democrat, saying “this lady is trying to do the right thing,” you’re laying it on a bit thick.

David Dayen

David Dayen