With the addition of Caroline Pham’s and Summer Mersinger’s names sent to the Senate for confirmation, the U.S. President has the opportunity to completely reshape the CFTC leadership.
The White House has officially submitted President Joe Biden’s nominations to fill two seats at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission with the upcoming departure of another commissioner.
In a Friday announcement, the White House said it had sent Citi managing director Caroline Pham’s and Summer Mersinger’s names to the Senate for confirmation. Mersinger previously served as chief of staff to commissioner Dawn Stump — who is expected to leave the agency this year — as well as the director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. She and Pham will be taking the places of recently departed commissioner Dan Berkovitz, whose term expires in April 2023, and that of Stump, with a term ending in April 2027, respectively.
The CFTC nominations came the same week the White House officially announced it had sent the nominations of Jerome Powell and Lael Brainard to the Senate to await confirmation before serving as the next chair and vice-chair of the Federal Reserve, respectively. Confirmation from the Senate would allow Powell and Brainard to act as two of the top leaders of the Fed until 2026. President Biden also submitted Christy Goldsmith Romero’s and Kristin Johnson’s names for the remainder of the empty CFTC seats on Tuesday.
With the nominations for four CFTC commissioners — subject to confirmation from U.S. lawmakers — there will no longer be any vacancies at the agency in 2022 after a shakeup in leadership. Berkovitz announced in September that he was planning to leave the CFTC on Oct. 15 to join the Securities and Exchange Commission as general counsel, and the Senate confirmed the nomination of Rostin Behnam to chair the CFTC in December.
At the moment, the Democratic party under the leadership of President Joe Biden controls 50 of the 100 seats in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to act as a tiebreaker if needed. A simple majority vote is needed to confirm the president’s CFTC picks.
While the White House has put forth four names for CFTC commissioners, it has yet to officially name candidates to fill upcoming vacancies at the Federal Reserve. Board member Randal Quarles resigned his position effective as of the end of December 2021, while current vice-chair Richard Clarida is expected to leave by February 2022. A Wednesday report from the Washington Post suggested the U.S. president is considering Duke University law professor Sarah Bloom Raskin to join the group of seven governors serving at the Fed, in addition to economists Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson.
There may also be an opportunity for Biden to shake up the leadership at another government agency responsible for digital asset regulation in the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission. SEC commissioner Elad Roisman is expected to leave the agency by the end of January and commissioner Allison Lee’s term is set to expire in June. Some experts have noted that placing different financial experts across these three major U.S. government agencies could have an impact on crypto-related policy.