House eyes CFTC tweaks

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will be in House lawmakers' sights when they return in June.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told lawmakers in a Friday memo that the chamber will take up legislation reauthorizing the derivatives regulator this month.

The regulator was last reauthorized by Congress in 2008, before the Dodd-Frank financial reform law handed the regulator broad new powers to oversee the complex derivatives marketplace.

But Cantor blasted the CFTC’s new rules under Dodd-Frank, arguing they unfairly punished farmers, ranchers and others far from Wall Street that rely on derivatives to hedge against price fluctuations of commodities. As such, the bill the House will consider will make several changes to how the CFTC operates.

“Americans will pay higher electric and natural gas utility rates and higher prices at the grocery store due to new CFTC regulations,” Cantor said. “This bipartisan legislation that would provide meaningful relief from overly-burdensome requirements from the CFTC at a time when we need less government involvement in our businesses.”

The House Agriculture Committee easily passed that legislation back in April, with strong backing from both parties. But advocates for tougher financial rules say the bill could handcuff the regulator, make it tougher for them to write new rules, and make it easier for the industry to escape tough oversight.