House Agriculture Committee chairman Mike Conaway during hearing

Conaway urges CFTC to halt any further rule-making

House Agriculture Committee chairman asks commission not move forward on controversial position limits rule-making.

House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway (R., Texas) sent a letter to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman Timothy Massad requesting that he not move forward on any controversial regulations during the final months of President Barack Obama’s administration.

In the letter, he asked Massad to refrain from “pushing through controversial regulations,” adding, “While we may not agree on which regulations are overreaching or unnecessary, we should agree that the American people have asked for someone else to make that judgment.”

House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway (R., Texas) has asked the CFTC chairman to halt any further rulemaking until the new administration has appointed new commissioners.

Conaway specifically requested that CFTC not move forward on the controversial position limits rule-making and that it extend the comment period for Regulation Automated Trader (Reg AT), noting that further work and consideration is needed for each proposal.

Agricultural groups have had concerns about the position limits rule-making, which Conaway called a “deeply controversial proposal.” In his letter, Conaway applauded Massad’s staff for working diligently and making progress on a number of significant deficiencies in the proposal he inherited.

“The public expects a healthy exchange of ideas and consideration of policy alternatives among commissioners as rules are finalized,” the letter said. “However, at this late date, there is no longer enough time to understand potential policy alternatives, negotiate new language and conduct the appropriate cost/benefit analysis of any amended final text. It now makes sense to entrust the work you and your staff have accomplished to your successor and the new commissioners who join the commission.”

The five-panel CFTC commission currently has only three commissioners, as two of Obama’s nominees will not be confirmed before he leaves office. The chairman is held by a party of the presiding president.

“President Obama told the public that he was looking forward to doing everything he could to make sure the next administration is successful. That must include preserving difficult and controversial rule-makings for the next chairman of the CFTC to complete,” Conaway wrote. "Failing to extend this courtesy to your successor likely will not settle the underlying policy questions. Instead, it will serve only to create needless compliance burdens for market intermediaries and sow confusion for end users who depend on derivatives to manage their business risks."

Conaway concluded by thanking Massad for his service, writing, “Your forthright nature and willingness to listen served the commission and our country well. Your leadership stabilized an agency reeling from previous mismanagement, and your personal engagement provided a needed opportunity for end users to be heard in the rule-making process.”

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