Gary Gensler Sworn in as Chair of the SEC
On April 17, 2021, Gary Gensler was sworn in as Chair of the SEC. Mr. Gensler was nominated by President Biden on February 3, 2021, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 14, 2021, by a 53-45 vote.
The SEC will now operate with a full complement of five Commissioners, having been short-staffed since the December 23, 2020, resignation of former Chair Jay Clayton. Mr. Gensler joins fellow Democratic Commissioners Allison Herren Lee and Caroline Crenshaw, as well as Republican Commissioners Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman.
According to reporting by The Wall Street Journal, the fact that only three Republican Senators voted to confirm Mr. Gensler “reflect[s] the GOP’s limited appetite for a policy agenda that is expected to include requiring more disclosure from public companies on matters such as the potential impact of climate change on their businesses.”
During a nomination hearing on March 2, 2021, Mr. Gensler pushed back against arguments that the SEC should not require more disclosure on environmental and social issues. According to reporting by The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Gensler said high interest from investors in companies’ efforts to address environmental and social issues suggests such information should sometimes be disclosed, even if large sums of money aren’t involved. ‘Materiality is defined as what reasonable investors are seeking to have to make decisions,’ he said, citing court rulings. ‘In 2021, there’s tens of trillions of dollars of invested assets that are looking for more information about climate risk, and I think then the SEC has a role to play to help bring some consistency and comparability to those guidelines.’”