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<p>WASHINGTON – Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs used the mark-up of the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 to commend committee members for their work on the bill and reiterate his concerns about the measure. Although he recognized the elements of flexibility that the committee added to the measure, “the structure of the bill still troubles me, and as a result, I don’t support it.” Gramm made it clear that he thinks the bill “is better today then the original bill that was proposed.” He stated though that, “In the end, the fundamental problem I have with the bill is the same.I have felt from the beginning that we should pass a bill. I think the President’s proposal was an excellent proposal for regulatory reform, and I think the action being taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission is right and represents a substantial reform.But I do not believe that is enough.” Instead, Gramm said, “I believe we should pass a bill setting up an independent ethics committee that will oversee and enforce the highest standards of ethics in accounts. I think this committee should be given the power to determine conflicts of interests and to make determinations on independence. It should also be independently funded by a source that is committed to the purpose of funding that activity, and the source should be permanent,” Gramm stated. Moreover, he said, if the bill calls for setting up an independent panel, “we ought to let the panel set the standards as to what represents a conflict of interest.if we are trying to make this board powerful, why we would want to pre-judge what the panel is going to decide is beyond me.”</p>

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