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Public Statements

CFTC Nominations

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I thank our leader Senator Durbin for speaking on a number of subjects that actually all add up to the fact that we believe every American ought to have a fair shot to make it, whether it is jobs in a new clean energy economy. When I think about the fact that we will not have a middle class, we will not have an economy unless we make things and grow things--and that is what we do in Michigan. I think about our new clean energy opportunities. There are 8,000 parts in a big wind turbine, and somebody has to make those parts. We can make those in Michigan. So when we talk about doing the right things so we can breathe the air and drink the water, it is also about creating new opportunities for good-paying jobs for people, and it is about making sure our economy works for everybody and that everybody has a fair shot. That is the best of America.

We have before us in the Senate three nominations for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and we will be voting on one of them in a few hours. They came out of the Agriculture Committee, which I am honored to chair, so I wish to speak about them for a moment.

This independent agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is entrusted with the important mission of protecting investors in the derivatives market from fraud, manipulation, and other abuses. That means farmers and ranchers. It means consumers. It means businesses, large and small. It means a way to create capital so it can be invested in new jobs.

The oversight of this agency is incredibly important. Given this responsibility, it is imperative that we select Commissioners who have demonstrated not only expertise in global financial markets but the integrity and the judgment necessary to lead the implementation reforms contained in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. This is a five-member Commission. Due to some changes and folks moving on in their careers, we have two members right now, one Democratic and one Republican. So we have a responsibility of now filling all five. We will have in front of us this week, at some point throughout the week, all three of the folks who came out of our committee.

We have three nominees before us who I think fit the requirement of having expertise, integrity, and judgment. The first is Republican nominee J. Christopher Giancarlo, and then we have two Democratic nominees, Tim Massad, who has been nominated to Chair the CFTC, and Sharon Bowen. All three are highly qualified nominees who were approved by the agriculture committee on a voice vote. Right now I will focus on Ms. Bowen, whom we will be voting on in just a little bit.

Within the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, individual agencies were directed to establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. This action was taken to address the lack of diversity of qualified men and women in Federal agencies involved in financial regulation but also subcontractors and contractors who receive billions of dollars from the government.

The CFTC itself should lead by example when it comes to diversity as well as expertise. So I am especially pleased President Obama selected Sharon Bowen as a nominee for the Commission. She will be the first African-American woman to serve on the CFTC and will be the only woman serving at this point in time on the five-member Commission. She has the expertise and experience to be an excellent Commissioner.

During her testimony before the Agriculture Committee, Ms. Bowen told of her upbringing as the youngest of five children in the small town of St. Julien's Creek in Virginia. During Ms. Bowen's youth, St. Julien's Creek was a segregated town, and her family had modest means, but these challenges forged her character. Ms. Bowen developed a knack for understanding the perspective of people who have a stake in public policy decisions but no voice in how those decisions are made.

This background has served her well throughout her years as an attorney. As a partner in the New York firm of Latham & Watkins, Ms. Bowen represented clients in a range of complex financial transactions. So her knowledge of derivatives and global markets is based on real-world experience.

She has been selected by one publication as one of America's top Black lawyers and chosen as the Lawyer of the Year by the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.

Recognizing Ms. Bowen's talents, President Obama nominated her to be vice chair, then acting chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, a very important nonprofit which helps protect investors whose brokers have failed them. Ms. Bowen was confirmed by the Senate, at that time, unanimously, and I certainly hope that will happen again.

Sharon Bowen has worked tirelessly to fulfill what are called SIPC's mandates--the Securities Investor Protection Corporation--helping thousands of small investors faced with the failure of their brokerage firms. During Ms. Bowen's tenure on the board, SIPC has returned $24.5 billion to over 9,000 investors.

Despite all her accomplishments through the years, it was evident from Ms. Bowen's testimony in the agriculture committee that she remains grounded by a sensibility for how markets have effects far beyond investors. They affect each of us. They affect consumers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and others who create jobs.

She recognizes the urgency of protecting these individuals from excessive speculation and manipulation. She told our committee:

I understand the importance of being the voice of the under-represented and small business owners who have not had a seat at the table, as I do today.

The CFTC needs a Commissioner of Ms. Bowen's background and skill set. I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting Ms. Bowen's nomination and to quickly move forward with the nominations of Mr. Giancarlo and Mr. Massad, whom I will be speaking about more as their nominations come before us, so they can get to work protecting investors and every American who is vulnerable to abuses in the futures and swaps markets.

We need those markets to work, to create capital, and also to manage risk for those who are using the markets in order to be able to manage their own risk, and we need a full five-member CFTC of competent, qualified people in order to get that done.

That is what we are doing today with the vote, and then, as we move forward this week, hopefully by the end of the week we will have the full complement of the CFTC in place.

Thank you, Mr. President.

I would suggest the absence of a quorum.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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