The White House has officially nominated President Joe Biden to fill two vacant positions on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission with the forthcoming departure of another commissioner.
In an announcement Friday, the White House said it had sent the names of Citi Managing Director Caroline Pham and Summer Mersinger to the Senate for confirmation. Mersinger was previously the chief of staff for Commissioner Dawn Stump (who is expected to leave the agency this year), as well as director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. She and Pham will fill the positions of the recently deceased Commissioner Dan Berkovitz, whose term expires in April 2023, and Stump, with a term ending in April 2027, respectively.
The CFTC appointments came the same week the White House officially announced that it had sent the appointments 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. Senate confirmation would allow Powell and Brainard to serve as two of the Fed’s top officials through 2026. President Biden also introduced the names of Christy Goldsmith Romero and Kristin Johnson for the remaining CFTC vacancies on Tuesday.
With the appointments of four CFTC commissioners (subject to confirmation by US lawmakers), there will be no vacancies at the agency in 2022, following a leadership shakeup. Berkovitz announced in September that he planned to leave the CFTC on October 15 to join the Securities and Exchange Commission as general counsel, and the Senate confirmed Rostin Behnam’s nomination to chair the CFTC in December.
At the moment, the Democratic party, under the leadership of President Joe Biden, controls 50 of the 100 Senate seats, with Vice President Kamala Harris, who can act as a tiebreaker if necessary. A simple majority of votes is needed to confirm those chosen by the CFTC president.
While the White House has proposed four names for CFTC commissioners, it has yet to officially name the candidates to fill the upcoming vacancies at the Federal Reserve. Board member Randal Quarles resigned as of late December 2021, while current Vice President Richard Clarida is expected to leave in February 2022. A report Wednesday by the Washington Post suggested that the US president is considering Duke University law professor Sarah Bloom Raskin to join the group of seven governors who work at the Fed, plus economists Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson.
It may also be an opportunity for Biden to change the direction of another government agency responsible for regulating digital assets in the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission. SEC Commissioner Elad Roisman is expected to leave the agency in late January and Commissioner Allison Lee’s term expires in June. Some experts have pointed out that the placement of different financial experts in these three large US government agencies could have an impact on policy related to cryptocurrencies.