November 03, 2017
The Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved President Trump's nominees for the two open SEC Commissioner slots, setting the stage for the confirmation process in the full Senate—and, more importantly, a fully-staffed Commission at the SEC. The vote was held in an abbreviated executive session devoid of controversy and the nominees, Republican Hester Peirce and Democrat Robert Jackson, were approved unanimously after only two short statements by Committee Chair Republican Michael Crapo (R-ID) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Although the Senate Committee hearing did not contain the tension which has been typical of Trump Cabinet nominee deliberations, Senate Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, in his short statement, expressed his reservations about some of the answers given by the nominees, but noted that his concerns are overridden by his view that the SEC needed to be at full strength. Given the pairing of Republican and Democrat nominees, a vote in the full Senate is expected to proceed. At present, the only current roadblock that could potentially hinder the process is a very crowded Senate calendar. Once confirmed, the SEC will have a full complement of Commissioners for the first time since December 31, 2015. This would allow the SEC to fully engage in rulemakings, even over the objections of Democrat Commissioners who have been able to thwart any Republican efforts given the three-Commissioner quorum requirement for rulemakings. Notably, Democrat Commissioner Kara Stein’s term as Commissioner has officially ended, although SEC rules allow her to stay on board for up to 18 months or until a successor is nominated. Additionally, Republican Commissioner Michael Piwowar’s term is set to expire in 2018, setting up the need for another nomination next year.