SEC Under Trump Slashes Rulemaking Agenda

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By Andrew Ramonas

The Securities and Exchange Commission cut its rulemaking agenda by about half under President Donald Trump, according to the agency’s semi-annual regulatory docket.

The list released July 20 has 33 items in the proposed and final rule stages, including six matters that haven’t appeared on previous itineraries. Those include an exchange transaction fee pilot program and rulemaking to simplify the agency’s Regulation S-K governing non-financial disclosures.

Missing from the docket are proposed Dodd-Frank Act rules on the orderly liquidation of large broker-dealers and disclosure of the relationship between executive compensation and a company’s financial showing, also known as pay versus performance. They were among 62 items in the pre-rule, proposed rule, and final rule stages on the fall 2016 agenda of former Chairman Mary Jo White, an Obama appointee.

The new list—drafted in March under then-acting Chairman Michael Piwowar, a Republican—is the clearest look yet into the agency’s rulemaking plans in the Trump era. Deal lawyer Jay Clayton, who became chairman in May, has largely stayed away from detailing specific regulatory initiatives.

Dennis Kelleher, president and chief executive officer of watchdog group Better Markets, said in a statement to Bloomberg BNA he was pleased that the commission’s agenda included increased transparency in the municipal securities market and restrictions on active traders’ aggressive short-term strategies in times of market stress. The agency, however, needs to do more to safeguard investors in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, he said.

“Mr. and Ms. 401(k) would not be happy about the new regulatory agenda published by the SEC today,” Kelleher said. “While it includes some important items that may improve our markets and protect investors, it falls far short of achieving the kinds of Main-Street-Investor oriented goals that the SEC exists for.”

Brian O’Shea, senior director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, told Bloomberg BNA the commission is going in the right direction.

“The SEC is in the place now where they’re moving on from mandated Dodd-Frank rulemaking,” he said.

Clayton’s Plans

Clayton hasn’t spoken directly on much of the agency’s rule list. Piwowar said in March he was preparing commission actions on “‘mom and apple pie'-type issues” of which Clayton would say “this is a great thing we should be doing.”

During his first major policy speech earlier in July, the chairman highlighted action on a pilot to lower fees traders pay for stock exchange access and updating Regulation S-K.

The access fee study could come out “in the coming months,” while SEC staff is making “making good progress” on Regulation S-K changes, he said.

A spokesman for the chairman declined to comment on the commission’s 2017 agenda.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Ramonas in Washington at aramonas@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at pdiamond@bna.com

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