By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON May 23 President Barack Obama
nominated two U.S. Senate aides on Thursday to serve as members
of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency tasked
with policing Wall Street.
Obama said Kara Stein, an aide to Rhode Island Democratic
Senator Jack Reed, would replace SEC Democratic Commissioner
Michael Piwowar, an economist who works for the Senate
Banking Committee, would replace SEC Republican Commissioner
Troy Paredes, whose term is set to expire in June.
The Senate must approve the nominations.
"Both of their experiences will serve them well as they work
to fulfill the SEC's mission of protecting investors and
ensuring a fair marketplace," Senate Banking Committee Chairman
Tim Johnson of South Dakota said in a statement.
For months, Stein and Piwowar have been mentioned as likely
successors to Walter and Paredes.
Obama's decision to nominate them roughly one month after
SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White was sworn in signals the
administration is anxious to ensure the agency will have a full,
five-member commission to complete its busy rulemaking agenda.
The SEC is trying to complete rules required by the 2010
Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.
Much of the work left revolves around a new regulatory
scheme for the $640 trillion over-the-counter derivatives
market, an area that Stein worked on extensively in Reed's
office during the crafting of Dodd-Frank.
The SEC is also under pressure from Congress to complete
rules required by a law that eases securities regulations to
help small businesses raise capital.
In addition, the SEC is mulling a proposal to impose new
regulations on money market mutual funds and continuing to study
whether it needs to make major equity market structure changes
and rein in high-frequency trading.
The SEC has been under pressure from critics, including the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to improve how it weighs the economic
impact of its regulations.
It lost several court battles in recent years after business
groups sued the agency on the grounds that it failed to conduct
a proper cost-benefit analysis.
The SEC has tried to improve its analysis by hiring more
economists and drafting new guidance that calls for more
involvement by economists in its rulemaking.
Obama's nomination of Piwowar, who once served as a senior
economist on the Council of Economic Advisers and a visiting
scholar at the SEC, ensures the agency likely won't take its
focus off of the issue.
"I am confident that as an SEC commissioner, he will work to
fulfill the agency's critical mission of protecting investors,
maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets and facilitating
capital formation," said Mike Crapo of Idaho, the senior
Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.