This week -- finally(!) -- the Senate Banking Committee held confirmation hearings for the two people nominated to be the next SEC commissioners: Hester Peirce and Lisa Fairfax. Presently, following the 2015 departures of SEC commissioners Luis Aguilar and Daniel Gallagher, the SEC is operating with just three commissioners (Chair Mary Jo White and commissioners Michael Piwowar and Kara Stein).
To recap, Peirce and Fairfax were nominated by President Obama way back in October 2015 to fill open Republican and Democrat seats on the Commission, respectively. Peirce is currently a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and Fairfax is a law professor at the George Washington University Law School.
On Tuesday, March 15, 2016, Peirce and Fairfax appeared before the Committee and faced questioning that was, at times, quite heated. According to ThinkAdvisor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., questioned whether Peirce would even be willing to to help the agency “''write and enforce'” dozens of Dodd-Frank rules given her vocal opposition to the law." Peirce is the author of a book entitled, “Dodd-Frank: What it does and why it’s flawed.” Warren asked "whether someone should be put in charge of enforcing laws that they think are unnecessary or counterproductive." Peirce responded by noting that she served for eight years at the SEC and that she wrote that book "not in the context of regulator but in the context of an academic.”
The WSJ reports that Fairfax received criticism from the Committee for signing on to a past legal brief "that argued that Wal-Mart Stores shareholders should have a greater say in whether the retailer sells semiautomatic rifles."
If confirmed, the five-person Commission will be 80% female.