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Senators Ask President to Include Insurance Experts on Financial Stability Oversight Council Panel

Source: The Hill

Posted on 25 Feb 2011

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Despite tackling issues impacting that industry, a bipartisan group of five senators is "very concerned" the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) has failed to name two insurance experts to its panel.

The lawmakers, in a letter sent to President Obama, point out that although the panel has met three times, it has yet to fill two spots reserved for insurance specialists, including one that would cast votes on FSOC decisions. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Hill.

It was signed by Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and David Vitter (R-La.).

The letter, dated Feb. 18, comes about one week after a bipartisan group of four House members aired similar concerns to the FSOC. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and ranking member Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) were among the members signing the letter.

The FSOC, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, includes the heads of several major federal regulators. Geithner chairs the panel, which includes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro, among others.

However, of the three spots reserved on the council for insurance experts, just one has been filled. John Huff, the director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, has been named to the panel as a representative of state insurance commissioners.

But the spots reserved for an independent insurance expert appointed by the president and a voting seat saved for a director of the Federal Insurance Office remain vacant.

"Important work is being done without the inclusion of two key insurance representatives, as required by the [Dodd-Frank] Act," the senators wrote.

Thus far, the new panel has met three times. While much of the group's work has been focused on organizational issues, it approved a study in January on the Volcker Rule. That rule, also part of Dodd-Frank, is intended to prevent banks from engaging in risky "proprietary trading," which is when banks trade with their own funds without the input of its customers.