H.R. 3890, the Accountability and Transparency in Rating Agencies Act, won support from both Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday.
Committee members voted 49-14 to send the bill to House leaders.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, Da., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s capital markets subcommittee.
The bill includes a provision that could make it easier for individuals to sue “nationally recognized statistical rating organizations,” and a provision stating that limits on the ability of state and federal regulators to regulate ratings do not create a defense against civil anti-fraud actions.
The bill also would add an NRSRO employee supervision provision and authorize the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to sanction supervisors for failing to supervise.
Independent directors would have to have at least one-third of the seats on NRSRO boards; disclosure requirements, including compensation disclosure requirements, would increase, and there would be changes designed to reduce the influence of the fact that issuers pay for the ratings.
When some NRSRO employees went to work for an issuer, “the bill requires the NRSRO to conduct a 1-year look-back into the ratings in which the employee was involved to make sure that its procedures were followed and proper ratings were issued,” officials say.