WASHINGTON – President Obama on Wednesday warned that exempting auto dealers from a new consumer protection agency would hurt buyers and let dealers continue “deceptive practices.”

The nation’s 20,000 new-car dealers have blitzed Capitol Hill over the past two weeks seeking to be cut free from the agency that would oversee consumer lending, part of a package of financial reforms expected to move through the Senate over the next several days. They’re backing an amendment by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., that would exempt auto dealers’ lending from new oversight that would still apply to banks and finance companies like Ally Bank, the former GMAC.

In his statement, Obama said leaving dealers out of the bill would let them “inflate rates, insert hidden fees into the fine print of paperwork, and include expensive add-ons that catch purchasers by surprise.”

Dealers have maintained that their finance businesses were already covered by federal and state regulators.