BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer the final amendment to this bill that will give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission the resources that it needs to put an end to the speculation that's contributing to the high gas prices across this country.
I want to be clear, Mr. Speaker. This amendment will not kill the bill, and it will not send it back to committee. If this amendment is adopted, the House will still immediately proceed to a vote on the final passage of the bill, and it should.
Today, estimates are that speculators control about 70 percent of the open interest in commodity markets--70 percent. Ten years ago, that number was 30 percent. These speculators are essentially large banks and hedge funds. They never actually take control of the oil. They just flip the contract, make their quick profit and get out. However, unlike trading in the stocks and bonds of traditional companies, commodities speculation has a real and big-time effect on Americans, driving up the price of gas. It creates undue hardship whether you are a business owner with a small fleet of cars or a large fleet of trucks or are a homeowner who is taking his kids back and forth to school, doing your shopping or running other essential errands. This hurts people who are already struggling to make ends meet.
According to one official at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, speculation, not the lack of production, has increased the price of gas by at least 22 percent, and today's price is about 56 cents per gallon. This should be unacceptable to every single one of us.
What is needed is for this Congress to make a concerted effort to curb speculation and Wall Street's anticonsumer practices. This amendment will do just that, and it will ensure that the CFTC has the resources it needs to carry out investigations and enforcement activities to stop commodity markets fraud, excessive speculation, and market manipulation. The President has recognized the importance of this issue and, just today, has called on this Congress to support increases in the CFTC's surveillance and enforcement staff for oil futures market trading, among other things. We need to give American families the confidence that illegal manipulation, fraud, and market rigging are not contributing to these high prices of gas. This House can take the first step and approve this amendment.
The amendment also ensures that nothing in the underlying bill allows, promotes, or facilitates lobbyist junkets related to hunting, fishing, or recreational shooting activities on Federal lands. I would hope that we can all agree that this bill should not create any loopholes to lobbying restrictions that are currently in place, and my amendment simply ensures that this is the case. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
I yield the balance of my time to the ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Markey).
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT