WASHINGTON — In a party-line vote Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $308 million budget for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the latest move in a stand-off over funding for the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.
The Senate Democratic budget proposal for the CFTC, which is in line with a budget request from President Obama, will have to be reconciled later with a separate proposal from the Republican-led House of Representatives.
Last week the House Appropriations Committee approved a $180.4 million budget for the agency, with $32 million of that total restricted for spending on information technology.
That leaves a gap of $128.4 million between the two chambers.
The CFTC's budget for the current fiscal year is $205 million, with $45 million restricted for IT spending.
Also included in the Senate appropriations bill is a $1.57 billion in funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission, an increase of $245 million from the agency's current funding level, and $200 million more than the House Appropriations Committee approved.
During a sometimes rancorous Senate hearing Thursday, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., accused his Republicans colleagues of siding with Wall Street in opposing funding that would enable the CFTC to regulate the swaps market.
"Come on. We were burned badly as a nation by the ability to trade these unregulated swaps," Durbin said.
Durbin also accused GOP senators on the Appropriations Committee, which has traditionally worked on a bipartisan basis, of reaching an agreement to oppose the Democrats' proposals.
That allegation drew a perturbed response from Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who noted that she voted for Dodd-Frank, and said that her opposition to the bill was related to separate provisions that do not involve the budgets for financial regulators.
"So to assume that there is this cabal that's been instructed to vote against the bill is completely unfair," said Collins, R-Maine.
Earlier this week, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler praised the Senate budget proposal, saying in a press release: "At this funding level, the CFTC will have sufficient cops on the beat to promote swap market transparency, to lower risk to the financial system, and to help protect the American people from future bailouts of the financial industry."