Making her first appearance on Capitol Hill as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White today urged members of a House panel to approve her agency’s request for $1.566 billion as part of President Barack Obama's budget. White testified before the Financial Services subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations.
Republicans on the subcommittee, including the chairman, Representative Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), criticized the budget request as being 33 percent more than the sequester amount. The SEC funds its budget using securities transactions fees collected by the agency.
Representative Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) asked White about the effects the sequestration has had on the agency. White said that while the SEC anticipated the budget cuts, the agency does not dilute its responsibility to oversee more than 35,000 entities.
"It is essential that we get the funding to do that or we don't have the ability to do our job," White said. "We have suspended and will have to suspend critical IT operations. It's very much felt."
White said that having the proper funding would ensure that the SEC is able to "keep up with the complexity and speed" of the financial markets.
Democrats were primarily focused on preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis and questioned White about what her agency can do to prevent another collapse. "There is no question that as the relative newcomer as the chair of the SEC, it is critical to make sure that it doesn't happen again," White said.
She also provided an update on the 90 or so rules the agency is charged with adopting as part of the Dodd-Frank legislation. "The SEC has proposed or adopted about 80 percent of the rules," White said. "There are a lot that remain to be done including the Volcker rule."
The Senate confirmed White's nomination in April. Before becoming the 31st chairman of the SEC, White led the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. White was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993 to 2002.