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WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Monday asked Congress to increase the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's budget by less than 1 percent to about $914 million for fiscal 2009.
The slight increase in funding comes as the SEC investigates companies and individuals involved in the subprime mortgage meltdown, a crisis that has roiled markets and forced major U.S. banks to take billions of dollars in write-downs.
The budget for the enforcement division, which has opened about three dozen subprime-related cases, would rise $3 million to a total of $318 million if Congress adopts President George W. Bush's budget.
During a briefing with reporters, SEC Executive Director Diego Ruiz said the agency is able to deploy resources as necessary when certain enforcement areas become prominent, such as subprime-related cases.
"We do think this is sufficient funding to fulfill the mission of the SEC," Ruiz said.
Ruiz said the agency will work on taking aggressive enforcement action against any fraudulent behavior in the mortgage and municipal bond industries, as well as any insider trading activity or financial disclosure failures.
He also said the funding will help the agency in its newly increased oversight of credit rating agencies.
The amount set aside for corporation finance, which establishes and monitors disclosure requirements, would increase $2 million to a total of $113 million.
For the current year, ending Sept. 30, the agency is expected to spend a total of about $907 million.
The SEC spending plan is part of a $3.1 trillion budget proposed by the White House that still needs to be approved by the Democrat-controlled Congress, which could alter much of it.
The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, which oversees the investor protection agency, had no immediate comment. Calls to the Senate Banking Committee, which also oversees the agency, were not immediately returned. (Reporting by Karey Wutkowski, Rachelle Younglai, editing by Maureen Bavdek and Tim Dobbyn)