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The Senate Banking Committee April 4 approved the nomination of corporate lawyer Jay Clayton to lead the SEC, over the objection of some Democrats.
The committee vote was 15-8, with all but three Democrats opposed—Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.).
The nomination now heads to the floor, where it likely won’t be taken up until the end of April at the earliest. The Senate is considering U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week and then is out of session for the next two weeks.
Clayton is a long-time partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where has represented large financial institutions and handled large initial public offerings.
Clayton’s client list would require recusal on many enforcement matters, which some Senate Democrats said would undercut the agency’s effectiveness.
Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) called Clayton “eminently qualified” but said he didn’t know when the full Senate would consider the nomination.
“I think he’s competent to do the job, and he answered the questions that I needed to have answered,” Tester told Bloomberg BNA in a brief interview.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has had only two of five commissioners since former Chairman Mary Jo White stepped down in January. The agency hasn’t had a full slate of commissioners since October 2015, when Dan Gallagher stepped down.
Even when Clayton is confirmed, either of the remaining commissioners, Michael Piwowar or Kara Stein, could block his agenda items by declining to participate in a particular matter, thus denying the agency a quorum.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Tricchinelli in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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