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Obama's FY2016 Fiscal Plan Would Boost CFTC Budget 29%

Included in President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 (FY2016) is a significant year-to-year increase for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the federal regulatory agency charged with policing derivatives, futures and swaps markets.

Included in the Obama administration's proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Budget is a request for $322 million for CFTC, an increase of 29% compared with the $250 million appropriated to the agency for FY2015. Obama had proposed $280 million for CFTC last year.

After the 2008 financial crisis, CFTC's responsibilities "were substantially increased" by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, giving the agency primary responsibility for oversight of the $400 trillion over-the-counter swaps market, according to CFTC Chairman Timothy Massad. "While the commission's budget has increased somewhat since that time, the increases have not been commensurate with the vast expansion of the commission's responsibilities and the increased challenges in light of market developments," Massad said in the CFTC's estimated FY2016 budget.

"Funding levels received in prior years have limited the commission's ability to fulfill its new responsibilities with respect to the swaps market, while at the same time continuing to meet its traditional responsibilities for the futures and options markets."

About 39% of the requested funding increase would go toward information technology investments that would enhance all CFTC activities, "including in particular, market surveillance, financial and risk surveillance, data collection and analysis, and enforcement," Massad said. The other 61% would support an increase in staffing; the proposed budget would add 149 full time employees to CFTC's ranks, bring the agency's total full-time staff to 895.

The increased funding would enable CFTC to engage in activities in support of its mission, Massad said, including enhanced surveillance capabilities to keep pace with increasing technological sophistication of markets, "in particular, the increasing use of automated trading." The agency would also be able to increase its enforcement capabilities, substantially expand its cybersecurity capabilities, and more.

Obama's budget proposal would also increase the Securities and Exchange Commission's budget 15% compared to FY2015 to $1.7 billion.

Obama in his budget proposal is "asking for billions in additional spending without any realistic way of paying for it," according to Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House Appropriation Committee.

"As always, despite the president's huge wish list of additional spending, the Appropriations Committee will take a very close look at the president's request, conduct vigorous oversight over federal agencies, and go line-by-line to make decisions that are justified and that use each and every tax dollar wisely and appropriately," Rogers said.

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