WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05) today called on Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to address concerns that sitting Federal Reserve governors are engaging in political activity as a follow-up to a widely covered (please see below) exchange they had at a September 28th House Financial Services Committee hearing.
At the hearing, Garrett asked Chair Yellen whether she believes a conflict of interest would exist if it was discovered that a sitting governor was actively seeking a high-level Executive Branch position in a future administration. Chair Yellen testified that she was “not aware” such a scenario would constitute a conflict of interest, but that she would have to consult Federal Reserve counsel in order to provide Congress with a complete answer.
This question was brought up in light of Fed Governor Lael Brainard’s vote at the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. Garrett cited revelations earlier this year that Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard had made the maximum allowable contribution to Hillary for America. There have also been several news reports over the last few months stating that Governor Brainard is on the “short list” for a high-level position in a potential Clinton Administration, including possibly Treasury Secretary.
The Federal Reserve prides itself more than anything on its monetary policy "independence", and countless Fed chairs have assured Congress and the public that the Fed is not subject to political influence. But when a sitting Fed Governor so brazenly engages in politics, Congress has a right to demand answers. Garrett asked the following questions to Chair Yellen. Click here to read the full letter.
1. Do you believe that the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy independence is in any way compromised in the eyes of the public when a sitting governor – or any member of the FOMC – contributes to a political campaign?
2. Do you believe there is any scenario where FOMC members should recuse themselves from participating or voting in FOMC meetings if they contribute to political campaigns while they are members of the FOMC?
3. Do you believe FOMC members should recuse themselves from participating or voting in FOMC meetings if they have been in discussions or negotiations for high-level Executive Branch positions in a current or future administration while they are members of the FOMC?
4. While contributions to a political campaign by Federal Reserve employees are legal under the Hatch Act, does the Federal Reserve have any kind of internal policies or procedures to determine when an FOMC member should recuse themselves from voting at FOMC meetings or from other matters pending before the Federal Reserve due to their political activity? If not, do you believe the Federal Reserve should establish such policies or procedures?
5. A Bloomberg news article written after the September 28th hearing stated that a spokesperson for the Federal Reserve claimed Governor Brainard has not “been in conversations with either [presidential] political campaign.
6. After news reports appeared mentioning Governor Brainard as being on the “short list” for a high-level Executive Branch position, should she have publicly stated that she will not entertain conversations regarding a position in a Clinton administration without first recusing herself from FOMC matters, or until she is no longer employed by the Federal Reserve? Would such a statement have helped preserve Federal Reserve independence?
7. Subpart F of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch lays out a number of prohibitions and requirements for recusal if the official duties of an Executive Branch employee conflict with the interests of an entity they are seeking employment with.
Coverage of September 28th Financial Services Committee hearing:
Wall Street Journal- Lawmaker Grills Yellen Over Brainard’s Donations to Clinton
Reuters- Lawmaker accuses Fed of being 'cozy' with Obama administration
Bloomberg- Yellen Cornered by Lawmaker in Heated Exchange Over Fed Politics
Morning Consult- Yellen Defends Fed From Accusations of Partisanship
CNN Money- Congressman grills Fed chief on political motives
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05) issued the following statement after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is unconstitutional:
“With a politically appointed head and its ability to bypass Congress to get funding, the CFPB has acted as a rogue federal bureaucracy with unlimited power and no accountability to the American people. Today’s ruling that the CFPB’s structure is unconstitutional is a win for transparency, and for the Constitutionally-mandated checks and balances that protect American families from abuses by overzealous government bureaucrats.
“We need consumer protections that actually put people and families first. The Financial CHOICE Act would achieve this by transforming the CFPB into a bipartisan, five-member commission which is subject to Congressional oversight and appropriations like the SEC, CFTC or the FTC. This is the only way to ensure that Washington will actually do its job instead of acting in its own self-interest.”
Rep. Garrett is chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05) issued the following statement on the passing of Israeli President Shimon Peres:
“Today we mourn the loss of a statesman and a friend of the United States with the passing of Israeli President Shimon Peres. President Peres accomplished so much during his life, including a Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but he will always be remembered for his commitment to his people and his fledgling country. My thoughts and prayers are with President Peres’ family and friends, and they are also with the people of Israel as they reflect on the legacy of this influential leader.”
Imagine if the Treasury Secretary had to live by new rules for banks.
Democrats are waging a non-stop campaign to punish bank executives for misconduct, both real and imagined. After revelations that Wells Fargo fired thousands of employees for setting up accounts without customer permission, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her colleagues were howling this week for Wells to claw back bonuses that had been paid to senior executives. Awkwardly for Ms. Warren and her colleagues, Rep. Scott Garrett (R., N.J.) decided to pursue this line of argument a little too vigorously for Democratic tastes.
At a hearing this week in the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Garrett asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who helped preside over a titanic financial disaster at Citigroup in 2008, whether the bank had clawed back any of his compensation.
YouTube viewers may be entertained watching the video of this exchange, in which Mr. Lew makes every effort to avoid answering the simple question. At one point the former chief operating officer of two troubled Citi units says, “I was responsible for administrative activities, not for designing risk products so let’s just remember what my role was.”
How could any lawmakers possibly remember his role? Mr. Lew spent the weeks before his 2013 Senate confirmation saying he couldn’t even recall the details of investments that blew up on his watch.
What makes this so awkward is not merely that Sen. Warren and her Democratic colleagues overwhelmingly voted to confirm Mr. Lew to run the Treasury. And it’s not merely that many of the regulators on Mr. Lew’s Financial Stability Oversight Council are now drafting clawback rules that other, less politically connected, bankers will have to live by.
There’s also the issue of scale. Jack Lew’s Citigroup consumed a series of multi-billion-dollar taxpayer bailouts and helped trigger a world-wide financial panic. Wells Fargo mistreated its customers, but its $2.6 million in remediation for those affected is a rounding error at a bank with $86 billion in annual revenue. If J.P. Morgan ’s famous 2012 trading loss was triggered by a “London whale,” as a financial matter this is the San Francisco minnow.
Mr. Garrett sums up the lesson for bankers when he says that “so long as you’re a high-ranking Democratic official, you can make all the money that you want on Wall Street but if you’re not one of them then you have to play by the rules if the company collapses.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05) issued the following statement after voting for H.R. 5931, the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act, to make sure the United States never pays ransom to Iran ever again. Garrett is a co-sponsor of this legislation:
“The Obama Administration can try to spin the story all they want, but they took $400 million in cold hard cash, strapped it to shipping pallets, and sent it halfway around the world as a ransom payment to the world’s most notorious state sponsor of terrorism. Even the State Department said that this secretive payment to Iran was used as “leverage” for the release of hostages, basically admitting that they violated longstanding U.S. policy not to pay ransom.
“Not only did this payout help fund Iran’s terrorist regime, who is aspiring to build nuclear weapons, it sent a message to the entire world that if you kidnap Americans the U.S. government will pay up. This sets a dangerous precedent and puts American lives in danger. The House passed the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act to make sure this never happens again.”
The No More Cash Ransoms to Iran Act would (courtesy of the House Foreign Affairs Committee):
Press Release - Garrett: Boeing deal with Iran proves crony capitalism is alive and well
Press Release - Garrett Statement on Iran Nuclear Arms Deal
Press Release - Garrett Introduces Bill to Ensure U.S. Never Assists Iran’s Nuclear Program
Jewish Link of New Jersey - Now Is the Time for Action on Iran Deal
The Record - Garrett vows to keep fighting Iran agreement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (NJ-05) delivered the following remarks at a hearing entitled, “Examining the Agenda of Regulators SROs, and Standard-Setters for Accounting, Auditing, and Municipal Securities”:
Congressman Scott Garrett’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
For the last six years, one of the primary objectives of this Subcommittee – and of the full Financial Services Committee – has been to hold regulators and other governmental bodies accountable to the American public who, lest we forget, ultimately pay the cost and have to contend with rules and regulations issued by Washington
In the last three years, our Subcommittee has received testimony from the heads of a number of offices within the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent hearing in April when we heard from the Chief Economist, Office of Compliance and Inspections, Office of Whistleblower, and the Office of Credit Ratings
These hearings have allowed our Committee take a deeper dive into the regulatory apparatus of agencies so that we can better understand their operations and agenda, and to ensure that they are actually carrying out their statutory missions
Today, I guess we have a bit of a regulatory “Noah’s Ark” on the panel in terms of the breadth of issues we’ll be able to cover between municipal securities regulation as well as accounting and auditing
I’m particularly pleased that we’re able to hear from the PCAOB and FASB today – it’s been a little while since you have testified, and there are a number of areas within your jurisdictions that I think members will be interested in
In the time I have here, let me just highlight a few areas of particular interest I’m looking forward to hearing testimony about today
The first issue is related to enforcement
As members are aware, this Subcommittee has spent a great deal of time examining and criticizing the lack of due process protections that exist for respondents who are the subject of an administrative proceeding at the SEC and other agencies
There are few issues more important to Congress than upholding the rights of Americans to defend themselves when the government brings a charge against them
But in today’s enforcement world – there exists an anomaly in that proceedings initiated by the PCAOB are held in private, and are only made public if they are appealed to the SEC
This contrasts sharply with practices at the SEC or FINRA, where charges against an individual or a firm are made public as soon as they are brought
Even as someone who has long been concerned with government overreach, I can’t bring myself to find a good reason for why an enforcement proceeding against an auditor should be treated any differently than a proceeding against a broker-dealer or an investment adviser
It seems that investors have a right to a certain level of transparency – if an auditor of a company they’re invested in has had a serious charge brought against them, that seems like important information
Certainly that auditor should be granted every right possible to defend themselves, but keeping a proceeding quiet makes our markets less transparent and is potentially harmful to investors
The second issue I’d like to discuss is somewhat related to the hearing this Subcommittee yesterday, where we discussed the topic of “materiality” in SEC filings
Companies make decisions on what to disclose based off the question of whether they are material to investors, and as we heard from our witnesses yesterday, the long-held definition of “materiality” has worked well and should not be changed
While it seems that the SEC and FASB are working towards a common definition that would provide certainty to preparers, issuers, and investors, what is less certain is the role that the PCAOB is playing and whether they are coordinating properly with both the SEC and FASB
The third issue – and I don’t think this will surprise anyone – is cost-benefit analysis
This Committee has made cost-benefit analysis a top priority not just for regulators but for SROs and standard-setters as well
I understand that some of the organizations represented on our panel today have made efforts to improve economic analysis – and I appreciate that
But the devil is always in the details – so I’m looking forward to hearing how each of your organizations (or offices) incorporate cost-benefit analysis into either your rulemaking or standard setting.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Garrett, (NJ-05) Chairman of the subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, delivered the following opening remarks at Financial Services Committee hearing entitled, “The Annual Report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council” featuring Treasury Secretary Jack Lew:
Congressman Scott Garrett’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. Secretary, it’s great to see you again. I understand you were a tough man to nail down to testify today – I guess I would be too if my job was defending FSOC
So we’re starting to get to that point in this Administration’s tenure where people inevitably start to talk about the “legacy” it will leave behind
Unfortunately, when it comes to FSOC, the Obama Administration’s legacy will be remembered as one of secrecy, obfuscation, and a continued refusal to answer questions or provide transparency to either Congress or the American public
Thankfully, it’s not just us in the legislative branch that have taken notice
The recent court decision invalidating the designation of MetLife is a reminder to all of us we live in a system governed by the rule of law and not the rule of bureaucrats.
I hope the Treasury Secretary understands this as well, and I look forward to his answers before our Committee today
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05) issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 5859, the Community Counterterrorism Preparedness Act, a bill that Garrett co-sponsored and supported:
“With bombs detonating in New Jersey and New York this week, the first line of defense against terrorism continues to be police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services professionals. To better prepare these men and women on the front lines, tonight the House passed the Community Counterterrorism Preparedness Act, a bill that I co-sponsored and supported, that will provide additional training for emergency responders to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks in high risk areas like New Jersey and New York.”
Key points of the Community Counterterrorism Preparedness Act include (courtesy of the Homeland Security Committee):
Full text of the bill can be found here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (NJ-05) delivered the following remarks at a hearing entitled, “Corporate Governance: Fostering a System that Promotes Capital Formation and Maximizes Shareholder Value”:
Congressman Scott Garrett’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today the Subcommittee continues its work in examining ways to improve laws and regulations impacting the governance of public companies in the United States, and to ensure that our capital markets remain the most robust and competitive in the world
The federal securities laws - the bedrock of our capital markets – were put in place eight decades ago to promote the transparency of securities offerings and to mitigate and enforce against fraud in the markets, and created the Securities and Exchange Commission to carry out an important mission
As this Committee is well aware, the SEC’s mission is three-fold: To protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation
Congress and market participants have long understood the SEC’s mission as such, and have recognized that the securities laws were not created – and were never intended to be – a vehicle to advance social, political, or other unrelated public policy goals
In recent years, however, well-funded and powerful activists have sought to turn the SEC’s mission on its head, and advance their idiosyncratic agendas by way of the securities laws
This has resulted in consequences that range from minor nuisances to humanitarian disasters
For example, as was explained in a devastating 2014 Washington Post article and in subsequent testimony before the Financial Services Committee, Dodd-Frank’s conflict minerals provision has only served to deepen the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has driven more people into destitution and poverty
Of course, Conflict Minerals is one extreme – but it is instructive in that it shows the type of folly that occurs when the securities laws are used for purposes other than those they were intended for
Today, one of the most common vehicles for special interests to advance their agendas is the shareholder proposal process, governed under Rule 14a-8 of the Securities Exchange Act
The mischief that has occurred under 14a-8, particularly in recent years is caused by a combination of extremely low thresholds for eligibility, as well as the increasing tendency of the SEC to err on the side of proponents, or to be unpredictable in their “no-action” process
What’s even more troubling, however, is the increasing politically-driven activism by public pension plans across the country
The overseers of many of these plans – who ostensibly owe a fiduciary duty to the plan’s beneficiaries – are increasingly aggressive in their use of shareholder proposals or others means to target industries that they don’t like
Not only is this a distraction for businesses and their investors, it can also have the effect of harming workers and retirees who rely on the income generated these plans
A recent study shows that the more public pension plans engage in social or politically-driven activism, the less they achieve in returns for their portfolio
Keep in mind, state and municipal pension plans around the country are woefully underfunded - not because companies don’t disclose enough about climate change, but because the political elites in charge of these plans have overpromised benefits while chronically underfunding the plans themselves
In fact, one recent study by the Hoover Institution earlier this year estimated that the unfunded liability has reached $3.4 trillion
So I hope today’s hearing will allow us to explore ways to reform the shareholder proposal process administered by the SEC, while also ensuring that if a shareholder has a good idea that can garner support, their voice is still heard
This hearing will also examine that impact that some of the politicized corporate governance provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, as well as the SEC’s ongoing Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative and mandates under the FAST Act to simplify disclosure obligations
I now yield to the gentlelady from New York, Mrs. Maloney for five minutes.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05) issued the following statement after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced the accelerated approval for a new treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy:
“I was encouraged by the FDA’s announcement this week that a new treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy received accelerated approval after I recently called on them to do so. This is an important step that gives children facing this devastating and rare disease access to a promising treatment. This issue is important to me, and I will continue to make sure the FDA is not holding up potentially life-saving treatments for our kids.”
2232 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
On January 3, 2013, Congressman Scott Garrett was sworn in to the United States House of Representatives, representing New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District. Since his election to Congress in 2002, Scott has burnished himself with a reputation as a leading advocate of tax relief and pro-growth economic policies, earning him awards and accolades from a number of national taxpayer and small business groups.
As a senior member of the House Budget Committee, Scott is on the frontline of House Republican efforts to rein in runaway government spending and shrink our country’s ballooning national debt.
A member of the House Financial Services Committee since his election to Congress, Scott has been at the forefront of public policy deliberations dealing with issues related to the financial services industry, developing considerable expertise in areas ranging from securities and finance to insurance and regulatory oversight.
At the beginning of the 112th Congress, Scott was selected to serve as the Chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Market and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. In this role, Scott presides over the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In addition, the subcommittee also handles all matters related to capital markets activities such as business capital formation and venture capital, as well as derivative instruments.
As founder and Chairman of the Congressional Constitution Caucus, Scott is highly respected among his House colleagues as an authority on constitutional issues. Founded in 2005, the Constitution Caucus provides an effective forum for education on constitutional principles and discussion on the appropriate limitations of congressional action.
Born in Englewood, Scott has spent much of his life living in North Jersey, which has instilled in him a great appreciation for the outdoors. He is a leading proponent of preserving open space and protecting such natural treasures as the Highlands, the Musconetcong River and the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge.
Prior to his election to Congress, Scott served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1990 to 2002, as the senior Assemblyman for the 24th Legislative District, Assistant Majority Leader, and Chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee. During his tenure, he also served on the Education, Transportation, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committees, as well as the Joint Committee on Public Schools.
Scott earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Montclair State University and his Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law – Camden.
Scott resides in Wantage Township in Sussex County with his wife, Mary Ellen, and their two daughters, Jennifer and Brittany.
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It was great to meet with everyone at the Park Ridge Rotary's Oktoberfest to discuss my work in Congress and everything happening in the borough.
I recently had a chance to congratulate the Dumont Fire Department on 120 years of outstanding service to our community. What an incredible milestone.
In case you missed today’s Garrett Gazette about the second most powerful person in the U.S. government: This week, one of the most secretive
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The Federal Reserve prides itself more than anything on its monetary policy "independence", and countless Fed chairs have assured Congress and