WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday approved President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, elevating a Wall Street lawyer who hopes to turn around the decline in the number of public companies over the past 20 years.
Jay Clayton’s agenda could be aided by an unusual alignment of political forces that escaped the SEC’s most recent leaders. He will enter office without a checklist of regulations mandated by Congress, which passed sweeping legislation in 2010 that pinned down the SEC with an abundance of directives both audacious and picayune.
Clayton said it was a “distinct honor” to take helm of the agency. “I look forward to working closely with my fellow commissioners and the dedicated career staff at the SEC to serve the American public and advance the SEC’s important mission,” he said.
For now, his most pressing commitment will be finding ways to reverse a two-decade trend of the government layering new regulations on public companies. Some constraints were reactions to marketwide crises, such as measures that forced firms to adopt stringent protocols against accounting fraud. While Clayton will have a friendly Republican Congress behind him, as well as the support of stock exchanges and business trade groups, large investors could rebel against efforts that are perceived as reducing transparency or other protections.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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