House Ag Chairman: No CFTC funding without reauthorization

A House lawmaker said Wednesday that a key financial regulator’s funding should be frozen until legislation overseeing it is passed.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas) said that until legislation reauthorizing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is enacted, Congress should not approve any additional funding for the derivatives regulator.

“I want to publicly state I am opposed to any increase in funding for the Commission until it is reauthorized,” he said in a statement. “Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have proposed level funding for the agency, and I do not believe it is appropriate to have any conversation that moves that line while so many end-user and good-government issues remain outstanding and unresolved.”

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The CFTC has to have its operation regularly reauthorized by Congress, and the agency has functioned under an expired authorization since 2013.

The House has repeatedly passed CFTC reauthorization in recent years, which also set new restrictions on how the agency writes and enforces rules. The chamber most recently passed a bill in June, which included language requiring more robust cost-benefit analysis before proposing new rules.

But the Senate has failed to act on similar legislation of late, leaving the CFTC operating under expired congressional authorization.

It is unclear how Conaway’s stand will impact the agency, if at all. While Conaway’s position as Agriculture Chairman lends clout, government funding, for at least part of fiscal year 2016, will be covered by a continuing resolution hammered out by lawmakers before the Sept. 30 deadline. Passage of individual appropriations bills, including one covering financial regulators, face incredibly long odds at this point.

The small regulator has seen significant funding boosts since the Dodd-Frank Act was passed, although its funding levels still fall short of what has been requested by the White House as sufficient. House appropriators proposed keeping the agency’s funding flat at $250 million for fiscal 2016, the same level as it received in fiscal 2015. Senate appropriators have proposed the same amount.

President Obama proposed giving the agency $322 million in his most recent budget request.