Durbin Chairs Budget Hearing on CFTC

Focus on Market Oversight and Gas Prices

[WASHINGTON, DC] - Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today chaired a hearing which reviewed the funding request of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), one of the nation’s primary financial market regulators. CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler testified before Durbin's Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.


“With our markets on the rebound, record high gas prices and vast new regulatory responsibilities, CFTC’s roles in protecting consumers and investors has never been more important,” Durbin said. “In order to protect our recovery, CFTC needs to remain a robust, responsive regulator, even as we face concerns over deficits and spending cuts.”


The CFTC is charged with protecting the public and market users from manipulation, fraud, and abusive practices. It is also responsible for promoting open, competitive and financially sound markets for commodity futures. Adding to the challenge of CFTC’s mission is a significantly transformed, globalized, electronic, round-the-clock, and highly diversified marketplace. 


With the enactment of Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform, the CFTC’s mission was substantially expanded to embrace oversight of the swaps marketplace – the vast “once-in-the-shadows” world of over-the-counter (“OTC”) derivatives. 


The CFTC’s budget request for FY13 totals $308 million, a 50% increase over FY12’s $205 million enacted level. Since 2007, Durbin has more than doubled CFTC’s budget. When Durbin took over as Chairman of the subcommittee he learned CFTC was falling woefully behind in regulating a marketplace that was exploding in volume.


At a time of record high gas prices, CFTC also has a large role in overseeing and investigating speculation in the oil markets. Consumers around the country rely on the CFTC to ensure that they aren’t being taken advantage of at a time of uncertainty in the markets.


"In Illinois, gas prices are over $4.40 per gallon in some areas.  It’s the same story every year: right before the summer, gas prices skyrocket.  However, this year, high gas prices may harm our economic recovery as families needing to spend more of their incomes on gas have less to spend on other necessities,” Durbin said. "CFTC needs to do all they can to ensure excessive speculation is not harming families at the pump."


Today’s Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing was its first evaluating the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget request. Video of today’s hearing can be found here.