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Chairwoman Stabenow Opening Statement at Hearing to Consider CFTC Commissioner Nominees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today released the following opening statement at the hearing to consider the nominations of Christy Goldsmith Romero, Kristin N. Johnson, Summer Kristine Mersinger, and Caroline D. Pham each to be a Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.”. Live video of the hearing is available here.

Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

I call to order today’s hearing on the nomination of the Honorable Christy Goldsmith Romero, Kristin Johnson, Summer Mersinger, and Caroline Pham to serve as Commissioners of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Welcome to our nominees. It’s a pleasure to have you and your families here with us today.

The CFTC has gone far too long without its full complement of Commissioners. Today’s hearing for two Democrats and two Republicans is an important step toward getting this financial watchdog back to its full capacity. It is critical that we confirm these nominees without delay. The invasion of Ukraine has led to price volatility in wheat and other agricultural markets. And there are reports that U.S. efforts to limit Russia’s access to capital may be undermined by the use of unregulated crypto markets.

A fully operational Commission will help to ensure that our agricultural producers have the tools they need to manage these and other price risks. And we look forward to working with the Commission to bring appropriate oversight to the trading of digital assets. These nominees are extremely qualified, and each would bring a unique perspective to their work at the Commission, making them well-suited to address these new challenges.

Inspector General Goldsmith Romero has investigated financial fraud, most recently as the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a position to which the Senate confirmed her by voice vote. Ms. Johnson is a professor and internationally recognized expert in financial markets, including on fintech and risk management. Ms. Mersinger worked in leadership roles at the Commission and here in the Senate. And Ms. Pham began her career at the Commission and has significant experience implementing financial market reforms in the private sector.

They are also making history. The Committee is reviewing the nomination of four women from both sides of the aisle —two of whom are women of color—to one of our country’s preeminent financial regulators. Our financial markets must work for everybody, so it is critical that our leaders bring different backgrounds and experience to the important job of protecting our markets and those who use them. As we saw at our hearing on digital assets, there’s broad bipartisan interest and industry support for greater oversight of the digital asset marketplace.

Making the financial system more accessible to the average American must go hand-in-hand with appropriate consumer protections. As we think about what federal regulation for digital assets should look like, we are going to lean on the leadership and experience of the Commission. And I trust that the CFTC can rise to the challenge. But we must give the CFTC additional resources if we are to give it more authority over digital assets.

We cannot repeat the mistakes of Dodd-Frank and give the CFTC more responsibility without an appropriate increase in funding. We also need to make sure our financial markets can respond to the escalating risks posed by the climate crisis. The derivatives markets will play an important role in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, whether to protect against extreme weather events or help farmers generate income from implementing climate-smart agricultural practices.

All four nominees have support from a broad range of stakeholders across the financial and agriculture sectors. I ask unanimous consent that this letter describing this support be entered into the record. With that, I’ll turn to my colleague, Ranking Member Boozman, for his opening comments.