April 8, 2013 at 3:58 PM ET
WASHINGTON -- Mary Jo White, a former federal prosecutor known for being tough on mobsters and terrorists, was confirmed Monday by the Senate as the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday by the Senate.
White received wide bipartisan support in the Senate thanks to her reputation as a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
It's a critical time for SEC, the agency tasked with policing Wall Street and writing new rules of the road for financial markets. The agency still has much work remaining as it seeks to finalize rules required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, particularly in the areas of over-the-counter derivatives and credit-rating agencies.
The agency is also behind on completing capital-raising rules required by more recent legislation, the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which relaxes certain securities regulations to help small businesses raise funds and go public.
The SEC has been stuck in a rut since former chair Mary Schapiro left in December, leaving the five-member panel divided between two Democrats and two Republicans.
Since then, the SEC has done little in the way of rulemaking.
What little criticism White has received so far has mostly been about her ties to Wall Street.
After working as a prosecutor, she became a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton where she represented high-profile clients including JPMorgan, former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, UBS and accounting giant Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Some, including Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown, have raised concerns that this "Wall Street bias" could harm the SEC, an agency that has been accused by some of striking weak settlements with Wall Street banks over their behavior during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
Little is also known thus far about White's views on securities regulatory policy and how she will direct critical rule-makings including a controversial plan to reform the $2.6 trillion money market fund industry.
The Senate's vote on Monday only allows for White to fill out the remainder of Schapiro's term, which expires in June 2014.
Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters.