Congress denies CFTC budget boost as workload looms

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Congressional lawmakers refused to give the U.S. futures regulator the big budget boost that the White House had requested, limiting the agency's resources as it puts in place financial reforms and investigates bankrupt brokerage MF Global.

Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Thursday agreed to set the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission's budget for fiscal 2012 at $205 million - $103 million less than what was requested by the Obama administration.

The agency's budget was $202 million for the 2011 fiscal year.

``I greatly appreciate the efforts of the Appropriations Committee and the Congress to provide an increase in funding for the CFTC and make technology funding a top priority,'' Scott O'Malia, a Republican CFTC commissioner, said in a statement.

``This budget will require the Commission to focus on its key mission objectives,'' he said.

The debate over the CFTC's budget comes as the agency is several months behind in implementing rules for the previously opaque $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market required under last year's Dodd-Frank law.

The CFTC has also taken on a sweeping review into the business practices of failed futures brokerage MF Global as regulators search for roughly $600 million in missing customer money.

Officials at the agency have said not receiving the necessary funding would curtail the CFTC's ability to finalize required financial reforms and could lead to layoffs at the agency. It could also make it harder for the CFTC to enforce the new rules it puts on the books.

``It's going to be tough. Without the resources we can't do the job,'' Bart Chilton, a Democratic CFTC commissioner, told Reuters Insider on Tuesday.

The CFTC's budget was included in a funding bill that set spending for the Agriculture, Commerce and Justice departments, among others.

(Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan; editing by Bernard Orr)



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