Republicans on Capitol Hill are laying the groundwork for how they will counter President Biden’s increasingly progressive economic agenda. They want to make Wall Street’s top cop their poster child for an administration pushing policies they say are both out of touch with the concerns of average Americans and unconstitutional.
The Securities and Exchange Commission run by former Goldman Sachs investment banker Gary Gensler has become public enemy No. 1[ads1] for many House and Senate GOPs. They say his policies, which include recently proposed rules forcing progressive edicts on the environment and other social issues near and dear to Democrats, as well as expansive crypto regulation, far exceed his authority.
If the GOP takes Congress, it plans an all-out assault on Gensler and his leadership at the SEC, Fox Business has learned after interviewing several key GOP lawmakers and others involved in Republican politics.
That would likely include forcing Gensler to appear before committee hearings and possibly trying to cut the SEC budget, as it has done in the past with a GOP-controlled Congress under the Obama administration.
SEC WANTS MORE CLIMATE INFORMATION. BUSINESS PREPARING FOR A FIGHT
Meanwhile, with the GOP still in the minority, members are beginning to map out their upcoming crusade against the agency and Gensler’s leadership.
Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, led by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on Thursday sent a letter to Gensler criticizing him for a lack of transparency regarding the agency’s proposed rule that would require public companies to increase climate-related disclosures to remain in compliance.
The letter follows Gensler’s lukewarm response to a request last month for the SEC chairman to provide answers about the costs associated with the proposal and how forcing climate disclosure could have a chilling effect on oil exploration and increase energy prices.
The request, reviewed by Fox Business, even raised the question that forcing CEOs to take positions on such high policy issues could violate their First Amendment rights.
The committee wants the SEC to turn over all communication documents related to the proposal between the SEC, the White House and federal agencies.
Gensler’s response did not include specific answers. Instead, he offered to brief committee members on the climate plan, GOP officials told Fox Business.
A spokesman for Gensler had no comment.
In the latest salvo, Toomey’s new letter called Gensler’s response “grossly inadequate and unacceptable,” while pointing out that a member of the public who filed a Freedom of Information Act request would be entitled to more records than the SEC has given the Senate committee oversight of the commission.
Toomey also said the GOP believes a recent Supreme Court decision limits the authority of federal agencies, such as the SEC, to enact policies that Gensler follows. That could mean the new SEC climate disclosure proposal is unconstitutional.
REPUBLICAN SENATORS PRESS BIDEN’S SEC TO WITHDRAW CLIMATE RULE
“In West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that the executive branch and its agencies, including financial regulators, cannot use creative, new interpretations of existing laws to pretend they have the legal authority to support sweeping policy changes that Congress never had with the purpose.” wrote senators. “Unfortunately, the SEC appears to be trying to act in exactly this way with its climate disclosure rule.”
Toomey is leaving the Senate after his term ends in January, but other GOP members of the Banking Committee will continue to push the effort. Gensler’s proposal would face even tougher scrutiny if the GOP controlled the Senate.
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“The GOP smells blood in the water, and this treatment of Gensler is just a foreshadowing of what’s to come,” said a former SEC official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They will certainly pull a Mary Schapiro on Gensler if they win the majority.”
Republicans routinely targeted Mary Schapiro during wide-ranging hearings about her agenda as President Obama’s SEC chairman after the House turned red in 2010 until the end of her term in 2012.
Chairman Gensler is scheduled to appear before the Senate Banking Committee for an annual supervisory hearing this autumn.