SEC Wants to Get Out from Under Appropriations, Fund Itself

Lora Bentley

I've written a few times now about the Senate's version of the financial regulatory reform bill, most notably that Sen. James DeMint, R-S.C., has promised to propose an amendment that would exempt small businesses from the auditor attestation requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley 404(b). The House passed a bill with a similar exemption late last year.


But, obviously, the bill covers much more than a possible Sarbanes-Oxley compliance exemption for non-accelerated filers. For example, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., together with six current and former heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is urging the Senate Commerce Committee to keep a provision in the bill that would allow the SEC to fund itself with the fees and fines it collects.


As things stand now, the agency is subject to the appropriations process in Congress every year, and sometimes runs short of what it needs. At the same time, the fees and fines collected are often double the budget that Congress eventually awards.


Schumer, current SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, and former agency heads William Donaldson, Harvey Pitt, Arthur Levitt, and David Ruder, as well as Richard Breeden are lobbying senators to support the proposal. For her part, Schapiro wrote a letter explaining the importance of self-funding to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.


According to Schapiro, the SEC is one of "very few financial regulators" that doesn't currently self-fund.


The Senate is slated to begin debating the bill later this month.

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