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Bill would have provided better oversight of commodities trading

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

The Commodity Markets Transparency and Accountability Act received a majority vote in the House of Representatives, but it failed to pass, because it was brought up on what is known as the suspension calendar. A bill brought up on suspension must have a two-thirds majority to pass. I voted for the bill and hope that it will be brought back as a regular order of business.

This bill addresses those who speculate on the price of oil and natural gas. Had it passed, it would not have solved the energy problem that we face, but I believe that it would help some. This bill prohibits the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from permitting a foreign board of trade to provide its U.S.-located members with access to the CFTC electronic trading system and order matching system for energy or agricultural commodities unless such board meets requirements similar to those imposed upon U.S. exchanges.

Further, it subjects swap transactions, transactions for agricultural and energy commodities, and large traders in over-the-counter contracts to reporting and record-keeping requirements. Also, the bill directs the Commission to: (1) set position limits for any one person with respect to designated contract markets, derivative transaction execution facilities, and electronic trading facilities; (2) convene a Position Limit Agricultural Advisory Group and a Position Limit Energy Group; (3) appoint at least 100 new full-time employees; (4) review prior actions to ensure compliance with this Act; and (5) review over-the-counter markets.

And the Commission is directed to: (1) require regular reporting of fungible over-the-counter agricultural and energy transactions; and (2) determine if such transactions have the potential to disrupt market liquidity or cause market or price disturbances, and if so, to use it's discretion to impose position limits.

By a one vote margin, the House of Representatives decided to complete its business last week without addressing the most pressing need of the American people: producing more oil and natural gas in our own country.

The majority in the House brought an adjournment resolution to the floor, rather than bring to debate a bill that would lift the Congressional moratorium on drilling for oil and natural gas on the outer continental shelf. 17 Democrats joined with all Republicans, including me, in voting against the resolution in order to force a debate and vote on lifting the moratorium. However, the majority Democrats prevailed 213-to-212.

As I travel the Fifth District, most citizens do not understand why we are not drilling for these natural resources in our own country, choosing to continue to pay billions of dollars to foreign countries for oil and natural gas. The concern of us in the Fifth District is supported by a large majority of Americans who hold the same belief.

The House has passed unanimously the Veterans Disability Benefits Claims Modernization Act. This bill addresses the disability compensation system of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to: (1) require a study on adjusting the schedule for rating veterans' disabilities; (2) establish the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation; (3) require a study on the employee work credit system of the VA's Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA); (4) require a study on the VBA's work management system; (5) require the certification and training of VBA employees responsible for processing claims; (6) require an annual independent assessment of the VBA's quality assurance program; (7) provide for the expedited VBA treatment of fully developed claims and a checklist for individuals submitting incomplete claims; (8) require a study of the VBA's need to employ additional medical professionals to act as a medical reference for employees handling claims; (9) provide for the assignment of partial disability ratings to certain veterans; (10) require a review and revision of VBA use of information technology; and (11) allow a claim beneficiary to be substituted as a claimant in the case of the death of a veteran claimant while a claim is awaiting adjudication or appeal.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.