Key GOP lawmaker open to SEC budget boost

His comments come as Republicans and Democrats spar over the level of funding for the SEC and its fellow financial regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commision. President Obama and congressional Democrats have pushed for significant increases in their budgets, given the increased workload they now have due to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

But Republicans have opposed those funding increases, and have even advanced spending bills that would trim those agencies' budgets. The SEC in particular has come under fire from the GOP on a number of fronts, including its failure to detect Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff and its inability to prevent issues that contributed to the financial crisis. A larger budget is not justified until the SEC's problems are resolved, lawmakers have argued.

His comments also came on the heels of an outside consultant's report on the SEC, which said the agency either needs increased funding or a reduction in its responsibilities. The report on the SEC's operations was mandated by Dodd-Frank.

"I do acknowledge that the Boston Consulting Group did say additional funding was necessary," he said. "I’m not going to argue with what was in print."

Bachus has put together draft legislation to overhaul the SEC, which would consolidate several of its offices and require the agency to submit its agenda to Congress every year, among other changes.

But he maintained at the hearing that the draft was simply meant to start the debate, and he was open to suggestions.

"It is merely an attempt to start the discussion," he said. "I think we can cheer the best ideas on both sides of the aisle."