In a 240-188 vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday night to reopen several financial services-related agencies of the government, including the Department of the Treasury and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the new chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, called on legislators to “put Wall Street’s cop on the block, the Securities and Exchange Commission, back to work.”

“This President has all but closed the doors of the SEC, furloughing 94 percent of the agency and essentially providing fraudsters and schemers with a free pass to swindle investors and small businesses,” Waters said in a speech on the House floor.

Waters said the SEC is currently operating with less than 300 staffers, which can’t cover the 26,000 investment advisors, broker/dealers and stock exchanges that the agency is tasked with overseeing. The SEC regulates investment advisors with more than $100 million in assets under management; the number of SEC-registered investment advisors reached a record 12,578 in 2018, according to a report by the Investment Adviser Association. 

“Worse, the SEC is unable to hold bad actors accountable through most enforcement actions, preventing harmed investors from obtaining relief.”

The scope of the problem goes even further; the shutdown may cause companies to push back their initial public offerings because the agency can’t approve their documents. “Businesses seeking guidance from the SEC are left in legal limbo until the SEC can get back to work.”

Despite her efforts, Senate Republicans say they won’t take up the bill.

“The Trump shutdown is jeopardizing the integrity of our financial markets and the hard-earned savings of millions of Americans,” Waters said. “So, let’s end this Trump shutdown and open the government so that the SEC and other agencies can get back to work on behalf of the public.”

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