WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Once confirmed as permanent chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, J. Christopher Giancarlo, now the regulator's acting chair, will keep the heat on derivatives and commodities markets with tough policing, he said on Thursday.
Giancarlo told a confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee that his priority was to "oversee robust enforcement of our rules and root out bad actors and wrongful practices."
He cited the steps he had taken as acting chair since Republican President Donald Trump nominated him in March, including appointing a new enforcement director, strengthening whistleblower protections and seeking more funding for enforcement.
The committee will vote at a later date to confirm Giancarlo, said its chairman, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas. Both the committee and full Senate are expected to easily approve his appointment.
Roberts pressed Giancarlo to "provide necessary and appropriate relief" to farmers and energy producers from regulations. Giancarlo, who worked in the private sector before joining the CFTC in 2014, has made easing regulation a cornerstone of his approach in public life.
Giancarlo's role at the CFTC has changed dramatically in the past year.
Before November's election, he was the sole Republican commissioner serving alongside a Democratic chair, Timothy Massad, and Commissioner Sharon Bowen. Massad left when Trump took office in January, according to the custom of agency heads belonging to the same party as the president. Bowen said on Tuesday she would depart as soon as another commissioner is confirmed.
While Giancarlo and Bowen have found common ground, Bowen said the situation was difficult for the commission, which is supposed to have five members and was given greater authority in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.
"Having just two commissioners makes routine business difficult, but makes important policy decisions almost impossible," she said at a market advisory committee meeting.
"Without a full complement of commissioners to consider the far-reaching implications of our decisions, we are frozen in place while the markets we regulate are moving faster every day. This fact is intolerable to me."
Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Peter Cooney