CFTC head keys in on gas prices to justify budget boost

ADVERTISEMENT
Under the president's fiscal 2013 budget request, the CFTC would receive $308 million in funding, up from the $205 million it received the previous year.

His request came as the CFTC is coming under mounting pressure from Democrats to curb speculation in the oil market, which they have blamed for the recent spike in gas prices. Hours before Gensler testified, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would force the CFTC to put limits on speculative trading in energy futures markets.

Gensler further justified a spending hike as necessary to keep up with a derivatives marketplace worth hundreds of trillions of dollars, as well as heightened responsibilities thanks to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

"It is as if all of a sudden the National Football League expanded eight times to play more than 100 games in a weekend. I think we'd all agree that the same number of referees could not monitor all these games," he said, according to his prepared testimony. "The CFTC needs more referees."

However, the odds of the agency receiving its full budget request seem slim, given that Republicans still control the House and are skeptical of doling out more funds, especially to regulators charged with implementing a Dodd-Frank law they opposed. The White House made an identical budget request for the CFTC in fiscal 2012, and received just a $3 million increase.