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Waters to Chair Gensler at SEC Oversight Hearing: You Have Much to Restore and Rebuild

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee virtual hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission: Wall Street’s Cop Is Finally Back on the Beat.”

Good afternoon, and welcome back to the Committee, Chair Gensler. You have a lot to restore and rebuild. During the Trump Administration, the Commission provided minimal oversight and eliminated key protections for investors. Trump’s SEC enacted Regulation Best Interest that brokers loved, and investors hated. Trump’s SEC approved proxy advisor and proxy access rules that corporate executives loved, and shareholders roundly rejected. To favor multi-billion dollar corporations, Trump’s SEC did nothing to standardize reporting of environmental, social and governance metrics. Even though the financial sector’s growth exploded, the number of SEC staff under Trump was reduced by 5% and enforcement actions against Wall Street fell to historic lows. And more troubling, working families and retirees, whose hard-earned savings help fuel the capital markets, were ignored. These are only a few examples. The point is clear: most of the policy and administrative decisions the Commission made under Trump unsurprisingly favored Wall Street, large corporations, and their lobbyists.

The SEC under your leadership also finds itself in the midst of a radically changing marketplace. Millions of new and often younger investors are entering the markets, but the rules of trading are stacked against them, providing larger, established participants like hedge funds and others exclusive access to information and trading venues not available to everyone. In addition, the incredible growth of unregistered and volatile cryptocurrency assets, as well as the emergence of cryptocurrency intermediaries, market exchanges, and decentralized protocols, present your agency with historic challenges.

Earlier this year, when the GameStop trading event raised significant questions about our markets, I convened a series of hearings to understand exactly what happened. We also passed several bills addressing some of our initial findings, including my bill, the “Short Sale Transparency and Market Fairness Act,” which provides our markets with greater and more timely transparency regarding the positions of Wall Street hedge funds and other large asset managers. We also marked up legislation related to gamification, payment for order flow, and legislation prohibiting market makers from trading ahead of their clients. I look forward to hearing an update from you about what the SEC is doing, and I’d like to make clear, our investigation into the GameStop event is ongoing and we will issue findings when our review is complete.

As Chairwoman, I expect the SEC will bolster the stability of our markets. However, I’m gravely concerned that the largest risk to the capital markets and the economy in the coming weeks is a train wreck we see coming—Republican Members of Congress blocking the US Treasury from paying its debts. We are now less than two weeks away, and my Republican colleagues are once again playing a dangerous game of chicken, even though fully one-fourth of the increase in the debt comes from Trump’s tax scam, a $2 trillion unpaid tax cut for the wealthiest Americans and billion-dollar Wall Street firms. So, I hope that you, Chairman Gensler, will discuss from your vantage point, what will be the effect on America’s investing public and small businesses if Republicans’ insistence on a government default succeeds.

I thank you for appearing before us today.

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