Senate votes to fill out derivatives regulator

The Senate voted Tuesday to make Timothy Massad the new head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The derivatives regulator, which was handed broad new powers under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, is now back to full strength after the Senate agreed to confirm three nominees to its board.

{mosadsAt the top of that list is Massad, a former Treasury Department official charged with overseeing the bailout programs. He will replace Gary Gensler, who left the CFTC at the end of 2013 after earning a reputation as a tough regulator.

Massad will be joined at the five-member commission by Sharon Bowen, a Democrat, and Christopher Giancarlo, a Republican.

The CFTC, while a small regulator, was given significant new powers under the financial reform law. For the first time, the CFTC has been charged with overseeing the complex derivatives marketplace, which has a notional value running in the hundreds of trillions of dollars.

Massad, who spent time as a corporate attorney before joining the Treasury Department, will fill the shoes of Gensler. A former Goldman Sachs executive, Gensler earned the praise of Wall Street's toughest critics for his tough stance implementing new rules for the financial sector.

None of the three nominees faced substantial opposition during the confirmation process, although a few Republicans were critical of Bowen.

She was confirmed by a 48-46 vote, after narrowly clearing cloture by a vote of 50-44 earlier in the day. Massad and Giancarlo were both confirmed by a voice vote.

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Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) opposed Bowen’s nomination, along with all Republicans. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he would have voted no, but because Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) missed the vote and supported the nominee, Levin simply withheld his vote.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) praised Bowen’s qualifications, saying she will add diversity to the commission because she’ll be the first African-American woman to serve on the CFTC and the only woman currently serving.

“She has the experience and expertise to serve on the commission,” Stabenow said ahead of the vote. “The CFTC needs a commissioner with the background and skill set of Ms. Bowen’s.”

— This article was updated at 5:39 p.m. to include the confirmations of Massad and Giancario.