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Legislative Updates: January 2010

 

Capitol Call

Members of Congress and the Senate raced to finish their legislative priorities in December so they could enjoy their holidays away from the Capitol. As a result, several bills were passed in December including the health care legislation that passed the Senate the morning of Christmas Eve.

In the House, the legislation of greatest importance to the options industry-- financial regulatory reform-- finally made its way to the floor and passed by a relatively narrow margin, 223-202. The bill included several significant provisions for the options industry. Of particular interest was the provision amending the Securities Investor Protection Act which would allow customers to fully benefit from risk-based portfolio margining by permitting certain related futures to be held in customer portfolios. The legislation now moves on to the Senate, where its outcome is uncertain.

In the Senate Banking Committee (SBC), Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-ALA) restarted bipartisan negotiations on financial regulatory reform legislation by organizing separate groups to negotiate four key areas: consumer reforms, over-the-counter derivatives reforms, structural reforms and resolution authority reforms. In addition, the SBC voted to approve the nomination of Federal Reserve Board (FRB) Chairman Ben Bernanke as Chairman for another four years. His nomination, which is publicly opposed by several Senators, is expected to be voted on by the full Senate in the near future.

The Senate Agriculture Committee (SAC) conducted an oversight hearing on over-the-counter derivatives issues during which CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler gave testimony.

Also in January, OIC hosted its annual educational event in Washington, D.C. to update congressional and regulatory staff about issues affecting the options industry.

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