Barney Frank Introduces Bill to Merge SEC and CFTC

Just weeks before he retires, Frank says 'the existence of a separate SEC and CFTC is the single largest structural defect in our regulatory system'

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Just a few weeks before his retirement, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. (left), introduced a bill late Thursday that would merge the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Frank, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, who introduced the legislation with Rep. Mike Capuano, D-Mass., said “the existence of a separate SEC and CFTC is the single largest structural defect in our regulatory system.” Unfortunately, he added in a press release, “this is deeply rooted in major cultural, economic and political factors in America.”

Had Congress sought to merge the SEC and CFTC in the Dodd-Frank Act, Frank continued, “it would almost certainly have caused the defeat of that legislation. Now that the basic policies have been adopted to cover securities and derivatives regulation, we can focus on the structural issue. I file this bill now, because I believe it is time for this to be on the agenda of the next Congress.”

Capuano noted in the release that the “common sense step” in merging the two agencies will “continue to advance financial regulatory reform” and “eliminate gaps that have put our financial system at risk.” Capuano is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Financial Services Committee.

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations also recommended in its November report on the collapse of MF Global, that both agencies be merged due to “the apparent inability of these agencies to coordinate their regulatory oversight efforts or to share vital information with one another” regarding MF Global.

Frank announced last November that he would not seek re-election in 2012 and that he plans to retire from Congress at year end.

Frank, 71, who serves the 4th district of Massachusetts, said at the time that congressional redistricting was the primary reason he chose not to seek re-election. Frank’s new district would include 325,000 people that he had not previously represented, he said, which would require him to “learn about new areas and introduce myself to new people.” Frank admitted that re-election would be “tough,” and said he found it hard to “justify” asking new constituents “to trust me and be their advocate.”

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