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Senate, House unveil dueling budget plans for SEC, CFTC

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have released dueling fiscal 2015 budget proposals for the country's top two financial market regulators, with Democrats seeking more funding and Republicans urging more belt-tightening and limits on how money is spent.

The two opposing spending bills mark the latest partisan dispute over how much money to allocate for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Both agencies have said they need major budget boosts to help them implement increased responsibilities under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

Republicans who are critical of the law and concerned generally about the federal deficit have been reluctant to approve big budget boosts for the two agencies, while Democrats have sided with the regulators' pleas for more resources.

A proposed spending bill approved by a Democratically controlled Senate appropriations panel on Tuesday calls for increasing the SEC's budget to $1.7 billion for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1, from $1.35 billion this fiscal year.

The CFTC budget would rise to $280 million from $215 million this year.

Those figures, which track a prior funding request from the White House, are less rosy than the numbers proposed by the Republican-controlled U.S. House.

Last week, a House appropriations panel released a draft bill that calls for only a modest $50 million budget boost for the SEC.

The SEC would also be limited in how it could use the increased funds, with most of it being earmarked for technology projects, and it would be restricted from spending money out of its reserve fund.

The bill is slated for a committee vote on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a separate House appropriations panel that oversees the CFTC's spending approved a bill in late May that affords the agency a tiny increase up to about $217.6 million. It too requires certain funds be spent on technology improvements.

A House floor vote on the bill with the CFTC's funding level was postponed earlier this month, and is expected to take place sometime after the July 4 holiday, a House appropriations panel spokeswoman said.

It is still unclear how the House and Senate will iron out their differences on the SEC and CFTC budgets.

But there will likely be less wiggle room than in prior years.

That is because House and Senate leaders already set the overall federal spending level for fiscal 2015 under a deal struck earlier this year.

The deal was hatched following a bitter fight over fiscal 2014 funding that led to a 16-day government shutdown last fall.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Richard Chang)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/140624/senate-house-unveil-dueling-budget-plans-sec-cftc-0