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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LYNCH. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Madam Chair, I speak in favor of a measure that will be coming up shortly, offered by my friend Ms. DeLauro, which goes to a major weakness in the underlying bill.

The core mission of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is to ensure the integrity and transparency of derivatives markets. Yet, despite the recent spike in gasoline prices and despite the great difficulty we had in this recent financial crisis with respect to commodities-based swaps, we have to come to the floor today to fight for funding for the one agency that would police that activity. It is, indeed, unbelievable that this House would consider a proposal that would eviscerate the agency with the central responsibility for regulating the commodities markets.

But here we are.

The price of everyday items, from milk to gasoline, depends on the fair and open operation of commodities markets policed by the CFTC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The recent spike in gasoline prices is not due to a shortage of supply, as we have seen, or increased demand. Clearly, this is a problem of unchecked speculative interests making money off the commodities markets as there are some who believe that as much as $27 of a barrel of oil today is the result of sheer speculation.

It is our hope that through the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform bill the CFTC's responsibilities will be expanded to include oversight of the nearly $300 trillion in previously unregulated domestic swaps on the market today. This is a key step to bringing the shadow markets, which helped crash the economy, under sensible regulation. This is where the CDOs, CDSs and other complex derivatives deals were made. This is how AIG helped bring down the economy. We have to regulate this financial market and these financial products. However, the notional size of the market that the CFTC now must supervise has increased seven-fold, and the CFTC needs more resources. But in this bill, we will see its budget slashed. Instead of giving the agency the tools it needs to prevent another financial collapse, we are planting the seeds for the next financial crisis.

The result of this Republican legislation to delay reform and the underlying bill to starve this agency would allow large, interconnected financial companies to engage unsupervised in activities and transactions similar to the activities that got us into this crisis in the first place. This would perpetuate an era of no oversight, no regulation and no transparency--in a similar fashion that nearly destroyed our economy. CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler has warned that denying funding to this agency and delaying the implementation of Dodd-Frank will greatly ``increase risk to the American people and leave significant uncertainty in the marketplace.''

The CFTC is vital to the proper functioning of our financial markets and the American economy. Underfunding the commission is deeply irresponsible, so I urge my colleagues to support the DeLauro amendment to properly fund the CFTC.


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