The Senate Banking Committee approved Gary Gensler, the Biden administration’s nominee to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, in a bipartisan vote Wednesday.
The panel voted 14-10 to advance Gensler’s nomination to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote by the full chamber. Two Republicans joined all 12 Democrats on the committee in backing Gensler.
In the same meeting, the committee deadlocked, 12-12, on the nomination of Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Chopra’s nomination also will get a floor vote under Senate rules that govern its operations while Republicans and Democrats each hold 50 seats.
“I hope we can move swiftly on the floor,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and chairman of the committee.
Gensler is a former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and a former Goldman Sachs executive who has a reputation as an aggressive and skilled regulator.
“Mr. Gensler’s leadership of the SEC is critical to ensuring that the agency meets the evolving needs of the people whose hard-earned savings are invested in the markets,” Brown said. “As more Americans save and invest for the future, the SEC’s mission to protect them is critical to build faith in our markets, and make them fair. Mr. Gensler’s tenure as CFTC Chair and as a Treasury Department official provide him with the experience and insights to be an effective SEC chair.”
But Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa. and the ranking Republican on the committee, opposed Gensler because he indicated support during his confirmation hearing for increased corporate disclosures about issues such as climate change, diversity and political spending.
“The securities laws are not the appropriate vehicle to address social and cultural issues,” Toomey said before voting against Gensler. “When I pressed Mr. Gensler on this subject, he provided no assurances that he would not use the SEC to pursue a liberal social agenda.”
Toomey also had qualms about Gensler’s answers regarding the SEC’s potential response to the recent GameStop trading frenzy.
“Based on Mr. Gensler’s answers to questions from other Senators about recent stock market volatility, I’m also concerned that he’s sympathetic to the paternalistic push by some on the left to impose regulations that would make investing more expensive and difficult for retail investors,” Toomey said.
It’s not clear when the Senate will act on Gensler’s nomination. He can be confirmed with a majority vote. Democrats control the chamber thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
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