WASHINGTON, July 29, 2015 – The Republican takeover of the Senate has all but ensured that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will continue to face a tight budget. But so far, GOP senators have been unable to get Democrats to go along with any new changes in Dodd-Frank regulations.
CFTC’s budget would be frozen at $250 million for the next fiscal year under a fiscal 2016 spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week, $77 million less than the White House request. House appropriators would provide the same amount as the Senate budget but would require the agency to spend a $5 million credit on its building lease to get the full $250 million.
The final amount that the agency gets for fiscal 2016 could change, depending on whether Democrats and Republicans reach agreement to increase the final levels for domestic spending. Democrats have successfully blocked appropriations bills from moving on the Senate floor because of their objections to the spending caps.
Democrats in both the House and Senate say the CFTC is getting the funding it needs to keep up with the complexity of the market and the added responsibilities the agency was given under the Dodd-Frank. “Dodd-Frank is the law of the land, and the CFTC, like every regulator, needs the resources to do its job,” said New York Rep. Nita Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
Still, Republicans have had no success so far passing a reauthorization bill that they could use to roll back some Dodd-Frank provisions, or at least to restrict the CFTC’s rulemaking. Part of the problem the GOP faces is that although the CFTC’s statutory authorization has lapsed, the agency doesn’t need it to keep operating so there’s little reason for Democrats to cooperate in writing a new bill.
The House in June passed a reauthorization bill 246-171, that would require CFTC to analyze the costs and benefits of all new rules. The bill (HR 2289) also would limit capital requirements for swaps dealers and exempt grain elevators and other agricultural interests that are managing their own money from having to maintain records of all forms of communications that lead to a trade.
Only nine Democrats voted for the bill, which the White House threatened to veto, and Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has yet to schedule for markup. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, says the requirement for cost-benefit analyses is a non-starter for her. She also says the agency needs a bigger budget. “The CFTC has been given 700 percent more responsibilities and it’s been cut in resources,” she said.
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