Gary Gensler confirmed by Senate to lead the SEC, Wall Street’s top regulator

Gary Gensler will lead the Securities and Exchange Commission after the Senate voted 53-45 on Wednesday to confirm his nomination to head the nation’s top financial regulator.

Gensler, chosen for the role by President Joe Biden, will now play a key part in enforcing and drafting the rules that govern Wall Street, investors and a wide range of other financial entities.

Now, with the SEC commissioners possessing a 3-2 Democratic majority, Gensler will likely have a long to-do list after he settles in to his new job.

Progressives expect the 63-year-old to follow through on his promises to look into a range of topics, including digital currencies, the Game Stop trading mania and how corporate America prioritizes environmental, social and governance issues.

Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs executive, is perhaps best known in Washington for his unyielding work at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where he devised the regulatory framework for the multitrillion-dollar derivatives market.

Democrats and Republicans alike asked Gensler in March whether he would scrutinize payment for order flow and game-like tactics used by brokerages to entice customers to their platforms. Both subjects received attention on Capitol Hill this year after January’s wild trading in Game Stop, AMC Entertainment and other stocks.

Gensler also noted potential problems with the current structure of payment for order flow, a common practice on Wall Street whereby trading firms, such as Citadel Securities, pay companies to send them their customers’ orders for execution.

Questioned in March how the SEC should regulate bitcoin and other digital assets, Gensler replied that the responsibility could fall across the government depending on how assets such as bitcoin are classified. One of his earliest and most-anticipated decisions as head of the SEC will be whether to allow the creation of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

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