Senate Democrats are demanding that the Securities and Exchange Commission “promptly re-issue a new anti-corruption rule…that is consistent with both Congressional intent and the extractive industry transparency laws in effect in thirty other countries.”
The rulemaking in question, from Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act. It instructed the SEC to create a rule requiring domestic and foreign oil, gas, and mineral companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges to publish the payments they make to foreign governments as the price to operate in those countries.
In February, President Donald J. Trump has signed legislation repealing the rule. It was repealed using the rarely used Congressional Review Act, passed into law in 1996, which empowers Congress to review and invalidate through an expedited legislative process a broad range of regulatory rules issued by federal agencies by enacting a joint “resolution of disapproval.”
To qualify for expedited consideration, a disapproval resolution must be submitted within 60 days after Congress receives the rule.
On Feb. 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 41 (H.J.Res.41) to annul the Extraction Payment Disclosure Rule. It then passed the Senate on Feb. 3 by a 52-47 vote. The resolution then went to Trump, who signed it on Feb. 14.
Among those demanding that the SEC reissue the rule: U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
“This anti-corruption transparency rule is necessary, particularly in times of conflict and market volatility,” they wrote. “In such an environment, transparency provides investors with essential clarity on the operations of company projects and their exposure to material reputational, expropriation, sanctions and other risks, which may be critical to their decision-making.”
“Likewise, transparency is a critical tool to ensure that citizens in resource-rich countries can monitor the economic performance of oil, gas and mining projects and ensure that such revenues are used responsibly,” they added.