Senate Adds Two Key Members To CFTC For Overseeing Bitcoin Futures Trading

Will Bitcoin Futures Trading Change With Two New CFTC Nominees?

This Tuesday the Senate approved two nominees to join the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, bringing the main U.S. derivatives regulator to full strength for the first time since 2014.

The addition of Republican Dawn Stump and Democrat Dan Berkovitz may kick-start policymaking at the CFTC. Stump, a former lobbyist, and the congressional staffer was nominated by Trump to fill a Republican seat in June 2017. Berkovitz, an associate at WilmerHale who was CFTC general counsel from 2009 to 2013, was selected in April. Once sworn in, they will join Giancarlo, Republican Brian Quintenz and Democrat Rostin Behnam on the five-member panel.

An initial CFTC effort to impose position limits on traders was struck down in 2012 by a federal judge, who said the agency hadn’t properly shown that position limits in commodity markets were necessary to decrease or prevent unnecessary speculation. Following that, the agency has held off on finishing the rules, and there is no guarantee a Republican-led commission will be eager to take up a rule-making effort viewed suspiciously by much of the derivatives industry.

The agency has struggled for years to win increased funding from Congress to meet regulatory responsibilities that have expanded in the wake of the financial crisis a decade ago. However, the noise around monitoring Bitcoin futures was so loud that they had to act faster than they are used to. Notably, Bitcoin future contracts were approved by the CFTC way back in 2017.

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