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Public Statements

Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. BROWNLEY of California. Mr. Speaker, I have a motion to recommit at the desk.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is the gentlewoman opposed to the bill?

Ms. BROWNLEY of California. I am opposed.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the motion to recommit.

The Clerk read as follows:

Ms. Brownley of California moves to recommit the bill, H.R. 992, to the Committee on Financial Services with instructions to report the same to the House forthwith with the following amendment:

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Ms. BROWNLEY of California. Mr. Speaker, this is the final amendment to H.R. 992, which will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill will immediately proceed to final passage, as amended.

My amendment is a simple, straightforward improvement that I believe both sides can agree is absolutely necessary and that I believe is also supported by the majority of the American people.

If my amendment passes, it will ensure that the American people, consumers, families, and businesses are protected from reckless speculation that is driving up the price of gas at the pump.

Specifically, my amendment ensures that nothing in this act would limit the ability of regulators to go after excessive speculation and manipulation of oil and biofuels. It simply clarifies that bank regulators have the authority to stop manipulation in the commodity markets.

This amendment also protects the wallets and pocketbooks of all Americans by ensuring that banks will not be given a free pass to destabilize commodity markets and drive up energy prices for all Americans at the pump.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, speculation in the energy sector is a very real, a very present, and a very serious problem. Volatility in oil markets since 2008, and more recently in biofuels, leads to dramatic price swings, causing pain for every American who depends on gasoline at the pump.

In September, The New York Times reported that prices for biofuel credits had recently surged 20-fold in just 6 months.

Because of these problems, many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have called for investigations in both oil and biofuel price manipulation.

In fact, just last week, on October 22, 15 of our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, asked the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to look into whether fraud and manipulation was playing a role in the biofuel credit price swings.

The concerns of many Americans extend far beyond biofuels.

Earlier this year, both the E.U. and U.S. authorities began looking at oil price manipulation, which not only affects the price at the pump but also artificially increases prices on everything from food to manufactured goods.

According to the Energy Information Agency, 71 percent of the price of a gallon of gas and 63 percent of the price of diesel is directly related to the price of crude oil. Thus, there is no doubt that speculators who drive up the price of crude oil are impacting the price at the pump.

Every time there is a gas hike, it hurts working families struggling to make ends meet. It hurts commuters driving to work and to school, including most of my constituents in Ventura County. It hurts small, mid-size, and large businesses, driving up the price of doing business and impacting their ability to invest in new equipment and hire new workers. It hurts our military, including those at Naval Base Ventura County, costing more to move troops and supplies. It hurts seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes and cannot afford an increase in retail grocery prices. It hurts the specialty crop growers in my district, including the strawberry, avocado, citrus, and lettuce growers, whose bottom line is so closely tied to the price of energy. It also hurts our overall national economy and threatens to slow job creation.

That is why it is so important that regulators retain the authority to prevent bad actors from taking excessive, or even manipulative positions, using swaps.

I believe that many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are honestly concerned about speculation in our energy markets. Let's do something today to stop it.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the motion to recommit.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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