SEC chief faces GOP scrutiny over progressive agenda

Republicans on Capitol Hill are laying the groundwork for how they will oppose President Biden’s increasingly progressive economic agenda. They will make Wall Street’s best cop their mouthpiece for an administration pushing policies they say are both out of touch with the concerns of average Americans and unconstitutional.

The Securities and Exchange Commission headed by a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, Gary Gensler, has become public enemy No. 1 for many House and Senate GOPers. They say his policies, which include newly proposed rules that impose progressive executive orders on the environment and other social issues near and dear to Democrats, as well as expansive crypto regulation, far exceed his authority.

If the GOP takes Congress, it plans an all-out assault on Gensler and his leadership at the SEC, Fox Business learned after interviewing several key GOP lawmakers and others involved in Republican politics.

That will likely involve forcing Gensler to appear before committee hearings and possibly trying to cut the SEC’s budget, as he has done in the past with a GOP-controlled Congress under the Obama administration.


Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., questions Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a Congressional Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 10, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/The Washington Post via AP, Pool/AP Newsroom)

In the meantime, as the GOP remains in the minority, the members begin to plan their next crusade against the agency and Gensler’s leadership.

Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, led by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., sent a letter Thursday to Gensler criticizing him for a lack of transparency regarding the agency’s proposed rule that, if passed, would require public companies to accelerate climate-related disclosures to stay compliant.

The letter follows Gensler’s lukewarm response to a request last month asking the SEC Chairman to provide answers on the costs associated with the proposal and how forcing climate disclosure could have a chilling effect on the industry. oil exploration and raise energy prices.

The request, reviewed by Fox Business, even raised concerns that forcing CEOs to take a stand on such burning political issues could violate their First Amendment rights.

The committee wants the SEC to turn over all communication materials relating to the proposal between the SEC, the White House and federal agencies.

Gary Gensler LLP

Gary Gensler, Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Gensler’s response did not include specific answers. Instead, he offered to brief committee members on the climate plan, GOP officials told Fox Business.

A spokesperson for Gensler had no comment.

In the latest salvo, Toomey’s new letter called Gensler’s response “totally inadequate and unacceptable,” while pointing out that a member of the public who submitted a Freedom of Information Act request would be entitled to more records than what the SEC gave to the Senate committee. overseeing the committee.

Toomey also said the GOP believes a recent Supreme Court ruling limits the power of federal agencies, like the SEC, to pass the policies Gensler is pursuing. This could mean that the SEC’s new climate disclosure proposal is unconstitutional.


“In West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that the executive branch and its agencies, including financial regulators, cannot use creative new interpretations of existing law to claim they have legal authority to support sweeping policy changes that Congress never wanted,” the senators wrote. “Unfortunately, the SEC appears to be trying to do precisely that with its climate disclosure rule.”

Toomey is leaving the Senate after his term ends in January, but other GOP members of the banking committee will continue to pressure the effort. Gensler’s proposals would face even greater scrutiny if the GOP controlled the Senate.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler testifies

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee oversight hearing on the SEC on September 14, 2021 in Washington, DC (Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images/Getty Images)


“The GOP smells blood in the water, and this treatment of Gensler only foreshadows what is to come,” said a former SEC official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They’ll surely pull a Mary Schapiro on Gensler if they win a majority.”

Republicans have regularly targeted Mary Schapiro in in-depth hearings on her agenda as President Obama’s SEC chairwoman after the House went red in 2010 until her term ended in 2012.

Chairman Gensler is scheduled to appear before the Senate Banking Committee for an annual oversight hearing this fall.

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