WASHINGTON, March 26, 2014 - The Senate Agriculture Committee will likely approve the three nominees for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), including for the chairmanship, before the Easter recess, according to Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
“It’ll be a couple of weeks. We’re just finishing up the paperwork,” Stabenow said on Monday. “There were a lot of questions asked, good questions [during a recent hearing on the nominees.]”
Stabenow said she expects a quick mark-up in committee.
While two Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and John Hoeven of North Dakota, have raised concerns that the nominees don’t possess experience in the agricultural sector, Stabenow said she was not aware of any objections from senators at this point.
The committee met March 6 to consider the nominations of Timothy Massad to serve as CFTC chairman, and J. Christopher Giancarlo and Sharon Y. Bowen as commissioners. At the hearing, Chambliss said the CFTC’s Agricultural Advisory Committee has been languishing, having met just once since 2011. Massad said he would make sure the committee is chaired and that it will meet more regularly.
A Chambliss aide said Tuesday the senator continues to be concerned about the nominees, specifically about the “lack of knowledge at the commission about end-users, especially those in the agriculture sector.”
“While he has not made a decision on whether he will support all of the nominees to the commission, he has indicated he will continue to ensure the needs of the agriculture community are met at the CFTC,” the aide said.
At the hearing, Hoeven was blunt about the need for nominees to have agricultural knowledge. “You don’t have any agriculture background, but I understand you plan to talk to farmers…about futures. You need to get out in the field,” Hoeven said. A Hoeven aide said Tuesday the senator will not hold up the nominees, but said he “wants a commitment from them to visit North Dakota at his invitation to better understand the perspective of farmers and ranchers regarding what the commission does.”
Last year, nineteen agricultural organizations asked President Obama to make sure at least one of his nominees has a background in agricultural commodity futures markets. “Throughout the agency’s existence there have always been commissioners that intricately understood agricultural futures markets, as well as the underlying physical markets themselves,” the groups wrote.
A spokeswoman for Giancarlo said Tuesday he will not speak to reporters until after the Senate votes on his nomination. However, she said Hoeven’s request to visit North Dakota sounded “like a bit of a stretch.” Bowen also declined to comment “at this time.”
Massad currently serves as the Treasury Department's assistant secretary for financial stability. If confirmed by the Senate, he would fill the post vacated by Gary Gensler. Massad joined the department in 2009 as chief counsel for the Office of Financial Stability (OFS) and later became the OFS chief reporting officer. In 2011, he was confirmed as an assistant treasury secretary, where he has overseen the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Giancarlo currently is executive vice president at interdealer broker GFI Group Inc. and would take the Republican seat vacated by Jill E. Sommers. Bowen currently is a securities lawyer at Latham & Watkins LLP and would replace Bart Chilton, who vacated a Democratic position on the five-member commission.
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