Chairman Quigley Statement at Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission Hearing

2022-05-18 10:05

Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL), Chair of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange.

This morning we welcome the chairs of the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission to discuss their fiscal year 2023 budget requests.

This is the first time we have hosted FTC Chair Lina Khan, but SEC Chair Gary Gensler testified before this subcommittee last year. It’s a pleasure to have you both before us today.

Together, these agencies serve as “cops on the beat,” protecting consumers across vast swathes of our economy. They set rules and expectations for corporate behavior, ensure Americans have the information they need to make prudent decisions, and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

Collectively, these agencies provide billions in redress each year for consumers affected by unfair, deceptive, or illegal practices.

And I applaud both chairs for reinvigorating their agencies through robust enforcement actions, a proactive rulemaking agenda, and a willingness to think creatively about better ways to protect consumers.

Unfortunately, that is not the only similarity between these agencies.

They are also both seriously out resourced by the industries they oversee.

The FTC assesses mergers and acquisitions and other competition issues for much of the U.S. economy, including technology, health care, energy, and pharmaceuticals. It also investigates unfair and deceptive practices related to privacy, cybersecurity, credit reporting, misleading advertising, and numerous other areas. 

The SEC monitors more than 29,000 registered entities, as well as numerous national securities exchanges, alternative trading systems, credit rating agencies, clearing agencies, and self-regulatory organizations.

The FTC and SEC have some of the brightest and hardest working employees in government, but these broad responsibilities mean that the agencies must make hard decisions about what investigations to pursue. 

For example, we have heard reports that these agencies may be outstaffed ten to one in high-profile litigation.

So we appreciate that both agencies have requested substantial funding increases in fiscal year 2023 to support their enforcement, rulemaking, and research priorities.

The FTC is requesting a significant funding increase of $113.5 million, or 30%, over fiscal year 2022 enacted, to hire more staff across nearly every part of the agency and support its IT and expert witness needs.

But because of an unprecedented surge in merger and acquisition activity, the FTC will also collect more filing fees, which will offset some of the proposed increase.

We look forward to discussing how the FTC will use these funds effectively to support its consumer protection and competition work – including important initiatives that I have long supported like increasing consumer rights to repair the things that they own.

We also hope to hear more about how the FTC is addressing the merger surge, the Supreme Court ruling curtailing its ability to award refunds to consumers under Section 13(b), and increasing expert witness costs.

The SEC has asked for $2.21 billion in fiscal year 2023, a 10.3% increase over fiscal year 2022 enacted. Much of this is for additional staff, particularly in the Enforcement and Examinations divisions.

The SEC plans to use these resources to address a variety of emerging issues, including cryptocurrency exchanges and tokens, increasing numbers of Initial Public Offerings and Single Purpose Acquisition Companies, and a growing number of private funds.

These funds will also support the SEC’s ambitious rulemaking agenda. 

I anticipate an informative discussion about the SEC’s progress in ensuring that consumers have the data they need to make informed investment decisions, particularly related to climate change impacts.

I’m also heartened to see that the SEC recently reopened or extended some of its comment periods. Robust public engagement ensures that critical feedback can be provided in the rulemaking process and minimizes the risk of costly litigation, and I encourage the SEC to consider further changes to ensure substantial public comment.

Thank you both again for joining us this morning.

117th Congress