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Waters’ Opening Statement at Mark-up on Derivatives Legislation

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, made the following statement at a meeting of the Committee held today to mark up legislation addressing the nation’s derivatives markets:

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this mark-up this morning on a broad package of bills related to a wide-range of issues facing this Committee.
Let me open this mark-up discussion by repeating what I have consistently said: I’m open to pieces of legislation that truly represent technical fixes to the Wall Street Reform Act, acknowledging that in any landmark reform, there are bound to be oversights, imperfections and ambiguities. 
But as we approach the three-year anniversary of the passage of the Act, with only about one-third of the required rulemakings having been completed, I am exceedingly nervous about re-opening the bill and making major adjustments to what is still an unfinished project, particularly with regard to the derivatives reform we accomplished under Title VII of the Act.  And especially on issues where regulators have the authority under the Wall Street Reform Act to address any legitimate issues raised by the industry, I am concerned about legislation that might tie their hands or constrain their ability to respond to evolving markets.

These concerns are shared by the Treasury Department as well. In a recent letter to our Committee, the Treasury Secretary Lew writes that “in many instances legislation is premature and aspects would be disruptive and harmful to the implementation of key reforms.” 

My reluctance is also heightened by the fact that there have been a significant number of financial scandals that have emerged since we passed the Reform Act, underlining the need for strong regulations and empowered regulators.  These scandals include, but aren’t limited to, money laundering to drug cartels, Libor manipulation, and the case of the “London Whale,” which underscores the importance of loophole-free global swaps regulation.   A number of lawsuits seeking to overturn Reform Act regulations also demonstrate that our accomplishments under Dodd-Frank are precarious, and continue to be at risk.  And the duplicative and onerous cost-benefit analysis bill we will consider today would further imperil our reforms, essentially stopping Dodd-Frank implementation dead in its tracks.

With that said, I should also note that there are a number of bills we’re considering today that I will support, and that I will urge my colleagues to support.  I appreciate the hard work of many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on these pieces of legislation, and I value their willingness to create clarity and certainty for market participants where it’s needed. 
Let me also reiterate that I did support the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or the JOBS Act, during the previous Congress, and I will support the two bills related to that Act being considered today.  I should also note that I remain concerned about resource constraints facing the Securities and Exchange Commission, and I urge my colleagues to support full funding for the agency, particularly if we’re going to expand or accelerate their responsibilities with the bills being considered today.
Mr. Chairman, the nine bills we’re considering today should each individually be considered on the merits, but there cumulative effects should also be evaluated.  I look forward to a substantive debate on each of these pieces of legislation and I yield back the balance of my time.


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