November 29, 2017 / 4:49 PM / 2 years ago

SEC nominees blocked in Senate as Democratic senator seeks answers

WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Approval of a pair of nominees to serve as commissioners at the Securities and Exchange Commission is being delayed in the U.S. Senate by a Democratic lawmaker, in turn posing challenges to any significant rulemaking by the SEC.

Senator Tammy Baldwin has placed a hold on Hester Peirce, a Republican, and Robert Jackson, a Democrat, pending their answers to several questions she has about how they would address certain issues at the SEC.

In letters sent to each Wednesday, Baldwin specifically asked about activist hedge funds, stock buybacks, and executive compensation.

“As a nominee to serve as an SEC Commissioner, it is important that the public know where you stand on these critical issues,” she wrote.

Baldwin pressed the two on whether they would support changing rules to require hedge funds to more quickly disclose investments in companies, and about the economic impact of stock buybacks.

She also asked whether they would support finishing work on rules requiring public companies to disclose the ratio between top executive pay and its median employee. The SEC delayed that rule, mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, earlier this year.

Any delay to Peirce and Jackson’s nominations is significant because with only three commissioners currently, the SEC faces challenges engaging in any major rulemaking. SEC quorum rules stipulate that the SEC cannot consider any rulemaking unless at least three existing commissioners are present, so the absence of any current commissioner prevents that work from occurring.

The senator will lift her hold on the two once her questions are answered, according to her office. At that point, the full Senate would be free to vote to confirm them, which is expected. (Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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