Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society

The Mechanics of Legislation: Congress, the SEC and Financial Regulation

The Other Players

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

“Thank you for your letter of October 14, 1986 addressed to Chairman Shad suggesting that the Commission hold public hearings on the New York Stock Exchange’s recent proposal to amend its ‘one share, one vote’ listing standard. On October 16th, the Commission discussed this issue at an open meeting and decided to hold two days of public hearings at a date to be announced later… The Commission would be pleased to receive your comments or those of your constituents.”

- October 27, 1986 Reply letter to U.S. Representative Newt Gingrich from Cecile Srodes, SEC Office of Legislative Affairs

In addition to Congress, financial regulatory agencies, the Presidential administrations and industry and consumer representatives each have their own set of experts to help shape proposed legislation to solve a particular objective and protect the individual interests of their constituency. These experts coordinate and conflict over legislative proposals in an effort to come to a consensus on what provisions are in the public and private interest reflected in the final bill.

For the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it is the Chairman who speaks for the agency. Congress expects the Chairman to testify before its committees, and the Chairman is responsible for developing a consensus among the Commission on suggestions from the SEC, or in response to proposals offered by Congress. A strong Chairman, capable of coordinating that consensus so that the SEC speaks with one voice to Congress, is essential to effectively responding to legislative proposals.

The Chairman’s work in legislative affairs is facilitated by the agency’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA). OLIA staff is on the front line in responding to Congressional requests for information, testimony, technical assistance and constituent demands. OLIA also monitors Congressional hearings, coordinates staff briefings for Congressional staff, and facilitates SEC actions with other federal and state agencies.

Since the office traditionally maintains a small staff, it relies on the expertise among the other SEC divisions and offices for institutional knowledge on legislative issues that span numerous Congresses. This institutional knowledge helps promotes the SEC in developing and nurturing professional relationships with Congressional staff, who guide the work of the committees in conducting hearings and drafting legislation in which the SEC has a particular interest.

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Related Museum Resources


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January 17, 1986
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Oral Histories

21 August 2002

Mary "Mickey" Beach

27 July 2012

Jonathan Burks

06 July 2012

Kathryn Fulton

11 June 2003

William Morley

16 June 2011

Marianne Smythe


6 June 2013

The Anatomy of Securities Legislation (Fourteenth Annual Meeting)

Moderator: Dr. Kurt Hohenstein
Presenter(s): Jane Cobb and Kathryn Fulton

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