President Obama is making a renewed push to boost funding for Wall Street's top cops after regulators said budget constraints were keeping them from enforcing rules put in place after the financial crisis.
The funding requests for fiscal 2016, released by the White House Monday as part of a broad spending proposal for the federal government, would raise the Securities and Exchange Commission's budget 15 percent to $1.7 billion. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the main U.S. regulator of the $700 trillion global swaps market, would get a 29 percent increase to $322 million.
The requests, which require congressional approval, set up a fight with Republican lawmakers who've resisted Obama's past efforts to provide more money for agencies responsible for implementing the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Republicans now control both chambers of Congress and have made revising the financial-regulation law a legislative priority.
Dodd-Frank gave the SEC and CFTC wide-ranging responsibilities to rein in banks' risky trading, write regulations for the derivatives markets and set new standards for Wall Street pay. With many of the rules written, regulators are turning their attention to ensuring firms are complying with the new oversight.
In its spending plan, the White House said it would oppose efforts to roll back financial regulations or change the way the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is funded. The budget for the regulator, which was created under Dodd-Frank to protect borrowers from predatory lending, is funded through the Federal Reserve. Republicans are seeking increased congressional oversight of the CFPB and its spending.
The heads of the SEC and CFTC have warned in recent years that their agencies don't have enough funding to enforce Dodd-Frank rules.
Timothy Massad, chairman of the CFTC, said in December that without more money, the agency would be limited in its ability to oversee swap dealers, such as Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and BP Plc. The agency wouldn't have the resources necessary to fully spot market manipulation or to protect against cybersecurity threats, Massad said.
The Obama administration said it continues to support legislation to fund the CFTC with fees on derivatives-trading, a push that has made little progress in Congress in recent years.
The SEC and CFTC got budget increases in a spending deal agreed to last month, with the SEC receiving an additional $150 million and the CFTC winning a $35 million boost.
Still, the budget strains have put a toll on the agencies. At the CFTC, employees joined a labor union last year after morale plummeted, according to a government survey. Less than 30 percent of staff members said they were satisfied with their pay compared with almost 80 percent in 2010.
The SEC's current budget of $1.5 billion was $200 million less than the agency sought for 2015. The regulator hasn't gotten the large increases it sought to do more examinations of money managers and other investment advisers. The SEC says it examined only nine percent of investment advisers in 2013, compared to 50 percent of brokers.