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Legislative Updates: February 2009


Capitol Call

The on-going economic crisis continued to dominate the legislative agenda for Congress during January. Much of its time was taken up with the stimulus package. On February 11, 2009 a $789 billion version of the bill was finally passed by both houses.

The House Financial Services Committee (HSFC) held a hearing on the Madoff Ponzi scheme early in January where the SEC Inspector General testified as well as the Securities Investor Protection Corporation’s President Stephen Harbeck. The Senate Banking Committee (SBC) also held a hearing on the Madoff scandal. Also, on January 27th 2009, Mary Schapiro was sworn in as SEC Chairwoman.

During January, the HFSC formally organized and appointed new Subcommittee Chairmen. The six HFSC Subcommittee Chairmen will be:

  1. Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises Chairman Paul Kanjorski (D-PA),
  2. Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA),
  3. Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Chairman Luis Gutierrez (D-NY),
  4. Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Chairman Mel Watt (D-NC),
  5. Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and
  6. Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Dennis Moore (D-KS).

The SBC has also announced the following new Members of the SBC including Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

In the regulatory arena, OCC submitted comments to the SRO Consultative Committee of the International Organization of Security Commissions. The comments addressed various regulatory approaches related to short selling.

Finally, looking at market structure issues, in early January President Obama gave an interview to CNBC. During the interview he said he plans a "substantial overhaul" of financial markets in the coming months and "we're going to look at this alphabet soup of agencies and figure out how we get them to work together more effectively." President Obama has also indicated that he would like to complete consideration of legislation overhauling the financial regulatory system by the G20 meeting to be held in April in London. In addition, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report on modernizing our regulatory system.

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