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Ranking Member Stabenow Opening Statement at Giancarlo Nomination Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, today released the following opening statement – as prepared for delivery – at the nomination hearing to consider the nomination of J. Christopher Giancarlo to serve as Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

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


Good Morning.  I’d like to welcome back and congratulate Mr. Giancarlo on your nomination. 

Mr. Giancarlo, you last testified before this Committee in 2014, as a nominee for CFTC Commissioner. Back then, you shared the witness table with Commissioner Bowen, and former Chairman Massad.

I think it’s fair to say the three of you worked hard to find consensus where possible in order to support the core mission of the CFTC to maintain transparent and competitive derivatives markets.

The CFTC Chairman has a wide range of responsibilities that have a tremendous effect on farmers and families. If confirmed as Chairman, the decisions you make day to day will have a much larger impact on financial markets and consumers both here and abroad.

As a Commissioner, I appreciate that you showed a willingness to work on a bipartisan basis to find consensus.

I would like to personally say thank you for visiting Michigan last summer to listen to both farmers and manufacturers about their concerns and to discuss the importance of the CFTC.  

Having played a pivotal role at the Commission over the past three years, you understand as well as anyone what work lies ahead for the CFTC. 

While Wall Street reform has brought much needed transparency to the previously unregulated swaps market, there is much more work that needs to be done at the Commission. 

The 2008 financial crisis exposed gaping weaknesses in our regulatory system, left the economy in ruins, and put millions of Americans out of work. 

Nearly nine years since the crisis, parts of our economy have shown great resiliency and progress. However, we should not be complacent with the improvements we’ve seen. We need to keep moving forward, not backward.

This Committee and the CFTC must not forget some of the Commission's crucial roles in overseeing the derivatives market: holding bad actors accountable, surveilling market participants, and monitoring systemic risk. 

From speculative position limits, to capital requirements, the CFTC has unfinished work. 

It is critical that the Commission take action quickly on these issues to finish the rulemakings required under Dodd Frank. The Commission should continue to build on the progress we’ve seen in recent years. 

Mr. Giancarlo, I look forward to learning about your plans for finishing this critically important work. We cannot afford to delay any longer.  

Of equal importance is the CFTC's insufficient budget.  Less than two months ago, the White House issued its budget proposal, which fell woefully short of what the CFTC needs to fulfill its mission.

I appreciated that you courageously broke from the administration to issue your own proposal, recognizing the CFTC must be better funded in order to be a world-class regulator.  I commend you for this and commit my support to continue the fight for additional CFTC funding. 

Simply put, the Commission cannot meet its responsibilities at its current funding level. The risks to our economy, which directly affect thousands and potentially millions of jobs, are too great to ignore any longer.

I also note that on Tuesday, Commissioner Bowen announced that she will be leaving the Commission in the coming months.

With this announcement, we need to confirm nominees for the four open Commissioner seats.  We need to move quickly to ensure we have a full leadership team in place so the CFTC can do its important work.   

Today, I look forward to learning more about your vision for the CFTC and how we can continue to build on the progress of reforms to create more certainty for our agricultural producers, commercial businesses, and consumers.

Whether we realize it or not, derivatives markets play an integral role in the everyday life of all Americans. We must ensure regulators and market participants are fulfilling their responsibilities to promote safe and transparent markets. 

Thank you.