WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives approved legislation on June 16 that would strengthen the U.S. capital markets by enhancing the ability of the Securities and Exchange Commission to protect investors. The House approved the Accountant, Compliance, and Enforcement Staffing Act, H.R. 658, 423-0, which was introduced on Feb. 11 by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) and Capital Markets Subcommittee Chairman Richard H. Baker (R-La.). "Last year we passed legislation to give the SEC needed additional authority to police the securities markets," Oxley said. "Earlier this year we approved a 63 percent budget increase for the Commission to make certain it had sufficient funding to implement and oversee the new reforms. This bill would complete the effort by ensuring that the SEC has the staff resources it needs to carry out the corporate accountability measures called for by Congress and the White House." The bill would enable the SEC to more easily hire the professionals it needs to "police the books of corporate America, inspect the operations of Wall Street firms and assess the costs and benefits of proposed securities regulations." Oxley and Baker said the SEC is "currently lagging in the hiring of accountants and compliance examiners which were authorized and funded last year. This problem will only be exacerbated in the coming year when it is expected that the SEC will need to hire over 800 new professionals as a result of the increase in the SEC's budget." Similar legislation, S. 496, was introduced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) and Securities and Investment Subcommittee Chairman Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.) in March.

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