WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, released the following opening remarks, as prepared, from the hearing to consider the nomination of Rostin Behnam to be chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC):
Good morning. I am pleased to welcome Mr. Rostin Behnam to the committee as we consider his nomination to be chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
I congratulate you on your nomination and your willingness to continue to serve our country.
If confirmed, Mr. Behnam will have the “acting” title removed, and he will officially take helm of an agency that regulates a wide range of financial products that are essential tools for end users like farmers, ranchers, municipalities and pension funds which use them to hedge commercial risk.
Beyond legacy commodity contracts that market participants have used for centuries to manage risk, derivative markets have also grown to include certain digital assets.
While digital assets and distributed ledger technology are revolutionizing financial transactions and the way people manage their money, questions remain as to the proper role federal regulators should play in encouraging further innovation in digital assets while ensuring market participants are protected.
Addressing climate change and its potential impact on markets has also been at the forefront of both domestic and international policy discussions, and an issue Mr. Behnam has made a priority during his tenure at the CFTC.
Mr. Behnam, I look forward to hearing your vision for leading the CFTC, particularly as it pertains to any upcoming rulemakings related to climate change, and how you plan to engage with other financial regulators to preserve the CFTC’s jurisdiction over derivatives, including digital currencies.
Before I conclude my statement, I would like to offer a few observations about the nature of the agriculture committee and our special role in the lives of America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities.
The agriculture committee is at its best when we work together. Today is an excellent example of this. The Senate received Mr. Benham’s nomination on September 20th, our staffs have worked in a coordinated fashion to review his paperwork and his record, and today we meet in a bipartisan fashion to hear from the nominee, whom I feel confident will be confirmed to be the next chairman of the CFTC.
Unfortunately, days like today have become less frequent. The committee, of recent, has strayed from its traditions, and I fear the consequences to American agriculture, our farmers, ranchers and rural communities.
In the last 40 years, in this committee, regardless of the party that controlled the Senate, there was some level of bipartisan input into the reconciliation process. That tradition ended this year.
Consideration of the agriculture provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act earlier this year, and the current reconciliation legislation represent the first time in more than 40 years the leadership of this committee has chosen to abandon our bipartisan traditions.
Unfortunately, it appears that our country’s farmers and ranchers have not been consulted either. I know that I count on the wisdom and experience of our country’s producers and the leaders from our rural communities to inform me. I have no evidence that in the development of the reconciliation bill that any input was sought from our major farm organizations. In fact, when I ask them if they were consulted, they tell me they were not.
Many of our fellow citizens who live in rural America believe that people in Washington think, and I stress think, they know what is best for our farm families and our rural communities. There is a feeling among many of the people who do not live in our nation’s cities that their political leaders do not value their expertise, or their opinions, and do not understand their lives.
When the Senate agriculture committee decides to forgo the expertise and opinion of those we are entrusted to represent, we are not living up to what should be our commitment to our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.
With that, I yield back.