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From Securities Regulation Daily, May 1, 2017

Senate begins Clayton confirmation process; SEC funding to hold steady

By Mark S. Nelson, J.D.

The Senate began the process for debating and voting on the nomination of Jay Clayton to head the SEC, but in late action the chamber still had work to do on the needed cloture vote. In separate congressional activity, members planned to move forward on an appropriations bill to fund the federal government through September that holds spending on the SEC and CFTC at current levels, and the House was set to mull several securities bills.

Nomination moves forward. Clayton had pledged at his banking committee hearing that he would not play favorites. Clayton garnered the approval of the Senate Banking Committee on a party-line vote, with much of the opposition focused on Clayton’s potential conflicts of interest.

Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) briefly took to the Senate floor today in support Clayton’s nomination ahead of an expected series of votes. Senator Crapo told members that Clayton would pursue an agenda that would help to grow and create jobs. The senator reiterated Clayton’s pledge of no favoritism while explaining that conflicts of interest are not a new issue for SEC commissioners, but that Clayton would be vigilant and ethical in such matters.

Appropriations for FY 2017. Meanwhile, members of both houses of Congress hammered out a tentative agreement on funding the government through September 30, 2017. The appropriations bill (H.R. 244) would hold funding for the SEC and CFTC steady at current levels—$1.605 billion for the SEC, and $250 million for the CFTC. President Trump previously signed a one-week stop-gap bill that keeps the federal government open until May 5.

While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) praised the avoidance of 160 “poison pill” items, the draft legislation would retain a provision held over from several recent appropriations bills that bars the SEC from finalizing rules to require companies to disclose their political spending habits. The bill also would rescind $25 million from the SEC’s reserve fund created under the Dodd-Frank Act and require the Office of Management and Budget to report to Congress on the costs of the Dodd-Frank Act.

House action. The House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) (H.R. 1366) by voice vote that removes an exemption under the Investment Company Act that had applied to U.S. territories. But the House will need to take recorded votes on two other bills dealing with investment fund research reports (H.R. 910) and to require the SEC to review the annual government-business forum on capital formation (H.R. 1312).

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