March 15, 2016

Sen. Brown Opening Statement at Banking Committee's Hearing on SEC, U.S. Mint Nominations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – released the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at today’s hearing on the nominations of Lisa M. Fairfax to be a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Hester M. Peirce to be a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Matthew Rhett Jeppson to be Director of the U.S. Mint.

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow.

Senator Sherrod Brown - Opening Statement:
Nominations Hearing

March 15, 2016

 Thank you, Chairman Shelby, for holding today's nomination hearing. Congratulations to the three of you.

Government is only as good as the people who are entrusted with positions of leadership.  I have been clear in my frustration with this Committee’s failure to act on the many nominees for whom we are responsible.  We have received 19 nominations over the past 15 months and acted on only one in Committee, and that one only days ago.

No other Senate committee failed to act on a nominee last year except this one.  And while a lazy or uninformed observer might chalk this up to partisan bickering or the sort of thing that happens all the time, it is not.

Don’t take my word for it. As Casey Stengel liked to say, you could look it up.  Posted on the minority’s website are spreadsheets of the actions of the committee and the Senate on nominees over the past 15 years.

The lowest share of nominees reported by the committee was 81 percent – in part because 3 nominees arrived in late November.  Our record to date is 26 percent.

The lowest rate of confirmation of nominees was 80 percent.  Our record is zero.

We should make progress on all the nominees pending before the committee, not just the nominees who are before us today, but those who have been in limbo for 200 or 400 or even 900 days as well.

I know there are disagreements with President Obama’s policies.  But he was elected the chief executive of our country – twice.  He has the right to put well-qualified people in executive positions to carry out his policies and to enforce the law.

It would be a mistake to adopt a wholesale policy of holding staff hostage for supporting the views of their boss.

That said, I am pleased to welcome today’s nominees.  Mr. Matthew Rhett Jeppson has been nominated to be the Director of the U.S. Mint, and Ms. Lisa Fairfax and Ms. Hester Peirce have been nominated to be Members of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Our first nominee, Mr. Jeppson, exemplifies public service.  He has served our country since 1989, first on active duty in the 1st Marine Division, and then in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserves.  Between 1995 and 1999, and again from 2001 through 2012, Mr. Jeppson held leadership positions within Unified Combat Commands, the Marine Corps, and U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.  In 2012, Mr. Jeppson joined the Small Business Administration to focus on veteran’s business development and served as acting COO, and this year he became Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint.

Eight years after the financial crisis, the importance of the SEC in monitoring the financial markets and protecting investors is only more obvious.  We continue to learn that our markets and large institutions are interconnected and increasingly complex.

Ms. Peirce has spent much of her career in public service – first at the SEC and then working on the Chairman’s Banking Committee staff.  In that time, Ms. Peirce saw the financial crisis unfold, and I trust that experience would serve her well as the SEC finalizes the Dodd-Frank rules and tackles the rest of its agenda, including Chair White’s initiatives on mutual funds and market structure.

Ms. Fairfax brings an academic’s expertise combined with a reasoned perspective to address the complex issues facing the SEC.   Her scholarship on the duties and responsibilities of corporate boards will be a valuable point of view when considering enforcement issues and the best ways to achieve accountability.

In order to navigate an ever-changing financial market landscape, the SEC must work closely with other regulators – in the U.S. and abroad – to make sure the markets function well and that investors are protected.  SEC Commissioners owe a duty to the public to achieve those goals, and we need to ensure the SEC has the people and the resources to do so.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.