The Senate Banking Committee held an open hearing on the nomination of Jay Clayton for SEC Chair. Mr. Clayton pledged to make U.S. capital markets more competitive, root out bad actors and "show no favoritism" if given the opportunity to lead the SEC.
In written testimony, Mr. Clayton stated that he was "100 percent committed" to combating fraud and "shady practices" in the financial system, and emphasized that all Americans should have the opportunity to participate in the U.S. capital markets fairly. Mr. Clayton asserted that U.S. markets face increased competition from abroad, and added that public U.S. capital markets have become "less attractive" to issuers. To increase investment opportunities for "Main Street investors," improvements would be necessary, he asserted.
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, underscored the need for the SEC to establish fair markets for investors, as well as to continue helping to make U.S. financial markets the "preferred destination" for investors. Senator Crapo urged Mr. Clayton to evaluate "outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome" rules.
Ranking Committee member Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) raised questions about conflicts of interest and Mr. Clayton's past client relationships:
"I'm concerned that you may need to recuse yourself too often at a time when we need a strong, independent SEC chair on the frontline of enforcement, not watching from the sideline."
In a related joint statement, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), House Financial Services Committee Chair, and Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Capital Markets, Securities and Investment Subcommittee Chair, also expressed their support for Mr. Clayton's nomination. If confirmed, the nominee would "clear away regulatory roadblocks that hinder [business]," the representatives stated.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called on the Committee to reject the nomination. Senator Sanders decried the growing number of Goldman Sachs ties within the Trump Administration, and asserted that President Trump had already "surrounded himself with former executives of Goldman Sachs. . . . Now, he wants Goldman Sachs' go-to lawyer, Jay Clayton, to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission."
Senator Sanders argued that the United States needs an SEC Chair "who is prepared to confront the system, not someone who is part of the system."
President-elect Donald J. Trump will nominate Jay Clayton to lead the SEC.
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