Lawmakers Use Funding Bill for Financial Police as Forum to Express Views on Regulators and their Agencies

The Senate Appropriations Committee is recommending that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission be funded at the same levels that the White House has requested. The $22.9 billion spending bill would allot $308 million for the CFTC and $1.566 billion to the SEC for the next fiscal year. No amendments were offered. Fiscal year 2013 begins on October 1, 2012.

However, Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a ranking member of this committee’s Financial Services Subcommittee, did express his opposition to the portion of the bill having to do with CFTC funding by voting “no” on that part. He contends that CFTC chairman Gary Gensler has rebuffed efforts to modify the way the agency is run. He also claims that Gensler has neglected to make rulemaking a priority as it relates to implementing key aspects of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The proposed funding for the CFTC is 50% above its present funding level, which is about $205 million. (Meantime, the proposed spending amount for the SEC is $245 million-a 19% rise from its current spending level.)

“One could argue that taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth from this investment but millions are involved in the securities and commodities markets and trillions of dollars change hands annually,” said Securities lawyer William Shepherd. ” Furthermore, more is lost through financial fraud than all other forms of fraud combined.”

Financial Services Subcommittee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) has noted that the CFTC’s job, which includes overseeing the $300 trillion swaps market, is “huge.” Gensler, who supports the funding bill, has said that the CFTC’s proposed funding amount would allow the agency to have enough “cops on the beat” to maintain swaps and futures markets that are fair. He and Durbin also have pointed out that the swaps market is eight times bigger than the futures market.

It is important to note, however, that these funding recommendations are counter to two bills currently making their way through the US House. Both bills would provide funding to the two agencies at financial levels below what President Obama has requested.

“Conservatives stress that private enterprise works better than government,” said Securities fraud attorney Shepherd. ” If investment fraud laws were even as strong as a decade ago, free enterprise could cut the cost of regulation in half. This is because private law suits would then deter most investment fraud at no cost to taxpayers.”

U.S. Senate panel OKs budget boosts for SEC, CFTC, Chicago Tribune/Reuters, June 14, 2012

Obama proposes large budget boosts for SEC, CFTC, Reuters, February 13, 2012

United States Committee on Appropriations

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