Risk & Compliance

Key Financial Oversight Jobs Remain Unfilled

About a dozen key spots are vacant at the SEC and other regulatory agencies amid nominee gridlock in Congress.
Katie Kuehner-HebertAugust 31, 2015

President Barack Obama, Congressional Republicans, and liberal Democrats are all pointing fingers at one another for not filling key financial regulatory oversight positions, and there is growing concern nothing will happen as the 2016 presidential campaign season heats up.

About a dozen key spots are still vacant at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., according to The Hill.

While Obama has failed to offer nominees for four positions, including a Federal Reserve position created in 2010, Democrats are placing blame on Sen. Richard Shelby, Alabama Republican and the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, where 11 nominations are pending.

Meanwhile, protests by liberal Democrats led by Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts caused Antonio Weiss, Obama’s nominee for under secretary for domestic finance at Treasury, to withdraw in January. Weiss, formerly of the investment firm Lazard, was roundly criticized by the liberal Democrats for his extensive Wall Street experience and the under secretary position has “lingered open ever since.”

The timing is unfortunate as financial regulators are struggling to push out new rules mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, experts said.

“Sometimes it means nothing happens and there’s a lack of action at the agency,” Aaron Klein, director of the Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told The Hill. “Other times it means that staff are unusually empowered to carry out their vision.”

“They’re deprived of new points of view. For those who believe in diversity of opinion as one of the goals of policy made by boards or groups, it can lead to less ideas being brought to the table,” Klein added.

The window for filling the key spots is narrowing, experts said.

“Realistically, it’s very difficult to get people confirmed during a presidential election year,” Dennis Kelleher, president and chief executive of the Wall Street reform group Better Markets, told The Hill.