CFTC agenda to slow as Senate panel eyes 2014 for confirmations

Commission to dwindle to two members from five

The top U.S. derivatives regulator is headed for a slowdown after the Senate panel responsible for confirming President Barack Obama’s picks for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said it won’t act this year.

The Senate Agriculture Committee in 2014 will consider the nomination of Timothy Massad to replace Gary Gensler as chairman of the agency overseeing swap-trading by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co, the panel’s chairman said. The agency, which is designed to have five members, will dwindle to just one Democrat and one Republican next year.

“We are talking about doing this after the first of the year,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, the Michigan Democrat and chairman of the agriculture panel that must hold a hearing on and approve CFTC nominees before they can advance to the full Senate. “We are going to take our time and make sure we give these nominees a comprehensive and complete vetting.”

The confirmation process comes as the agency tries to flex its powers under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which gave the commission oversight of the $693 trillion swaps market after largely unregulated trades helped fuel the 2008 credit crisis.

Massad’s nomination and the pending nomination of J. Christopher Giancarlo, an executive at New York-based inter- dealer broker GFI Group Inc. to replace Jill E. Sommers, a Republican, could face other hurdles in the Senate which has split along party lines.

The third vacancy will open by the end of the year, when Bart Chilton, a Democrat, has said he’ll resign. Sharon Y. Bowen, a securities lawyer at Latham & Watkins LLP in New York, is under consideration by the Obama administration to fill Chilton’s spot, according to four people in the financial industry.

“It’s an important time at the CFTC and so it’s critical that we thoroughly examine these candidates before we make any decisions,” Stabenow said in a statement.

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