Yesterday, the SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services. During the hearing Chairman Schapiro expressed her strong support for increased funding for the SEC. In doing so, Chairman Schapiro expressed her hope that Congress would permit the SEC to tap the $17 million of the SEC’s budget from Fiscal Year 2008 that went unspent. While appreciative of the increased funding for the SEC contained in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Chairman Schapiro stated that these funds were not sufficient for the to reinvigorate and strengthen the agency.

Chairman Schapiro also presented to the Committee her agenda for the coming year, one that will focus on, including proxy access, risk disclosure, and disclosure related to executive compensation. Chairman Schapiro also indicated that money market fund regulation, retail investor protection, and international cooperation will be high on the list of the SEC’s priorities in the coming year.

Following the hearing, Chairman Schapiro spoke with reporters and indicated support for reinstating the uptick rule (which generally bars short sales unless the last sale price was higher than the previous price). When asked, Chairman Schapiro indicated to reporters that the SEC is looking to issue a proposal in April to restore the rule.

In addition, Chairman Schapiro outlined some of her achievements at the SEC since taking the helm in January:

  • Ending the two-year “Penalty Pilot” program which required several levels of approval before the enforcement staff could seek civil monetary penalties.
  • Streamlining approval for formal orders of investigation.
  • Hiring a seasoned prosecutor for the position of the head of enforcement.