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Ranking Member Stabenow Opening Statement at Hearing on the State of the CFTC

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 hearing entitled “State of the CFTC: Examining Pending Rules, Cryptocurrency Regulation, and Cross-Border Agreements.”

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

Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this very important hearing. I’d like to welcome our newest members of the Committee, Senator Smith and Senator Fischer.

Chairman Giancarlo, welcome back to the Committee this morning.

Many people don’t realize the importance of futures and swaps markets to the strength and stability of our economy.

When a corn and soybean farmer in Saginaw County, Michigan needs protection from damaging swings in commodity market prices, they use the futures markets. When an auto manufacturer in Detroit needs protection against changes in foreign currency, in order to export American-made products, they use swaps.

Futures and swaps markets support our economy, helping to create American jobs and promoting economic stability. We need a strong CFTC to ensure that those markets are fair and transparent, and free of fraud and abusive practices.

It’s been roughly 10 years since the Great Recession, when the reckless actions of a few led to the pain and suffering of many. Over 8 million jobs were lost. Countless small businesses were shuttered. Farmers and homeowners across the country faced foreclosure. Many older Americans were forced to delay their hard-earned retirements, while many younger Americans were unemployed and unable to pursue their piece of the American Dream.

We must never allow the devastation of the Great Recession to be repeated. It is critical that we do all we can to ensure that farmers, businesses, and families are protected from financial ruin through no fault of their own.

Congress has entrusted the CFTC with tremendous responsibilities: protecting customers, promoting transparency and stability in our markets, monitoring for market abuses and systemic risk, and holding wrongdoers accountable – just to name a few. And since the passage of Dodd-Frank, the CFTC has worked hard to promote strong customer protections.

The agency has modernized its surveillance capabilities to better identify market abuses and systemic risks.

And its enforcement program has exposed wrongdoing by some of the world’s largest financial institutions, while also targeting the crooks and fraudsters who push Ponzi schemes and investment scams in our own communities.

But as I have said before, there is more work to be done. We must continue to make progress toward a safer financial system. Which is why I am concerned about the agency’s continued failure to complete the rulemakings required by the Dodd-Frank Act.

Critical rules, such as implementing speculative position limits and setting minimum capital requirements for swap dealers, remain nonexistent.

I am also interested to learn more about emerging market issues, such as the CFTC’s approach to automated trading and the tremendous growth of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

And finally, we must continue to advocate for the CFTC to have the resources they need to do their job. The CFTC’s responsibilities have increased dramatically since the Great Recession, without the necessary funding to fully carry out those responsibilities.

As a result, Americans have been placed at risk, and that is unacceptable.

Chairman Giancarlo, I know that you share my concerns. I am committed to advocating for a fully-funded CFTC, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this critical need.

Our nation’s farmers, ranchers, Main Street businesses, and consumers all depend on fair and transparent derivatives markets. And they need the security and protection provided by strong CFTC oversight.

Today, I look forward to hearing more about how the CFTC will continue to strengthen its efforts to safeguard our markets, minimize systemic risks, and protect consumers from fraud and abusive practices.

Thank you again, Chairman Roberts, for convening this hearing today.