CFTC, SEC see funding surge under Obama budget plan

WASHINGTON Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:34am EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House proposed on Monday large funding increases for U.S. market regulators, a move that likely to come under fire from Republicans who oppose key provisions in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

The Obama administration's fiscal 2012 budget proposed giving the Securities and Exchange Commission a 28 percent funding increase to $1.427 billion and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission an 82 percent spending jump to $308 million compared to fiscal year 2010 actual spending levels.

"President Obama's request presents an admirable equilibrium," CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton told Reuters. "It proposes both fiscal restraint and needed resources for market oversight and enforcement," he said.

Dodd-Frank was enacted last year in response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. U.S. regulators have said they will need more funding to write and enforce dozens of rules required by Dodd-Frank, including authority to oversee the $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market as well as hedge funds and private equity funds.

Republicans who now control the House of Representatives have questioned funding boosts for regulatory agencies as they look to cut government spending and seek to throttle enforcement of Dodd-Frank by starving regulators of additional funds.

Congress did not finish its budget process for fiscal 2011 before the November elections, leaving government budgets frozen at 2010 levels.

Republicans' strategy of withholding regulatory funding increases has drawn the ire of Democrats, including Barney Frank, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. Frank has called a failure to adequately fund the CFTC, SEC and other regulatory agencies a "serious threat" to the implementation of the law he co-authored.

The budget freeze has already begun to affect day-to-day operations at the agencies. SEC commissioners have complained they cannot afford to send examiners for overnight stays, and the CFTC also has been forced to curb travel for employees.

Both agencies have said they are in dire need of technology upgrades and new staff.

The Obama administration's budget proposal also would bring the CFTC in line with other regulators by implementing user fees on Wall Street and big banks that would generate $117 million in funding during fiscal year 2012 that begins October 1. For a link to a graphic on CFTC's budget: r.reuters.com/vyj97r (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Christopher Doering; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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