Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said that the Commodities Future Trading Commission needs thoughtful and independent voices to prevent another financial crisis and protect markets that are critically important for growing the economy and creating jobs. The comments came during a confirmation hearing for Mark Wetjen, who has been nominated to replace CFTC Commissioner Mike Dunn.
"The CFTC's role in overseeing our financial markets has significant implications for businesses around the world and the ability for companies to grow and create jobs," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "Commissioners play an important role in protecting these markets, creating certainty and investigating market abuses. As I told the White House, I expect a smart, thoughtful, independent voice at the Commission in this position."
Following the passage of last year's Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFTC has come into greater focus as the agency moves forward in developing a series of major reforms aimed creating more transparency in the swaps market. Chairwoman Stabenow emphasized the role the complex market plays in the lives of every day Americans, and reaffirmed her commitment to thoroughly vet nominees to make sure they're of the highest caliber necessary for the position.
"Mr. Wetjen's nomination comes at a crucial moment for our economy and our financial markets, as the CFTC continues to both implement important reforms and monitor our commodity markets for manipulation, fraud, and abuse," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "The CFTC is so important to the daily lives of Americans. Whether it is paying for gas at the pump or paying for food to feed our families, when these markets don't work, consumers feel the pain."
Chairwoman Stabenow's opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.
Opening Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
July 21, 2011
Good morning, and thank you all for being here. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry will now come to order.
Today the Committee will consider the nomination of Mark Wetjen to serve a 5-year term as Commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Mr. Wetjen, congratulations on your nomination. We extend a warm welcome to you and your family and friends joining you here today -- your wife, Nicole; son, Cullen; mother, Sheila; and brother, Sean.
I would also like to take a moment to give a special welcome and thank you to Commissioner Mike Dunn who is here with us today. Commissioner Dunn, I want to thank you for your service and commitment to the agency, the markets, and the country. The work you do is so important. We on the Committee greatly appreciate your willingness to stay with the CFTC a little while longer as the Senate works through the nomination process. Again, thank you for your service.
In the same vein, I would like to thank Commissioner Jill Sommers for coming today. She is doing important work at the Commission, helping us get these rules right. In particular, I would like to highlight her strong work on international issues, a priority of mine.
I would now like to recognize Majority Leader Reid, who is here today to introduce Mr. Wetjen to the Committee.
Thank you Senator Reid.
I know I speak for all of the members of this Committee when I say that we take our advise and consent role very seriously.
Mr. Wetjen's nomination comes at a crucial moment for our economy and our financial markets, as the CFTC continues to both implement important regulatory reforms and monitor our commodity markets for manipulation, fraud, and abuse.
The public's awareness of the CFTC has only grown in the last year with both the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act and the increased volatility in our commodity markets. People have realized just how much we need someone watching over these markets and the CFTC is there to protect both market participants and the integrity of the markets, making certain that they are competitive, open, and financially sound.
In 1974, Congress created the CFTC as an independent agency to regulate commodity futures and options. But over the years, that role has expanded to complex financial products and most recently to swaps, overseeing most of a $300 trillion notional domestic market.
While the CFTC is an agency that few Americans think about, it is an agency that is so important to the daily lives of Americans. Whether it is paying for gas at the pump or paying for food to feed our families, when these markets don't work, consumers feel the pain.
The CFTC's role in overseeing our financial markets has significant implications for businesses around the world and the ability for companies to grow and create jobs. Commissioners play an important role in protecting these markets, writing regulations and investigating market abuses. Stepping into the agency in the middle of a complicated rulemaking is a heavy responsibility. As I told the White House, I expect a smart, thoughtful, independent voice at the Commission in this position. And I believe Mr. Wetjen will be such a voice.
I would like to submit a letter of recommendation for Mr. Wetjen from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If there are no objections, the letter will be inserted into the record.
Seeing none, I will now turn it over to my good friend Senator Roberts for his opening remarks.