President Joe Biden today elevated Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) commissioner Allison Herren Lee to the role of Acting SEC chair.

Lee is one of four SEC commissioners currently serving, as the agency waits for Biden nominee Gary Gensler to be confirmed by the Senate for a five-year term. Gensler will then take over the role previously held by Jay Clayton, who left the agency last month.

Herren Lee was appointed by President Trump in 2019 to fill the vacancy left by Kara Stein's departure.


The SEC is structured so that no one political party can dominate. Lee is one of two Democrats on the commission, along with Caroline Crenshaw. Elad Roisman and cryptocurrency-friendly Hester Peirce are the two Republicans on the commission.

“I have tremendous respect for my colleagues on the Commission and the exceptional staff across the agency, and look forward to working closely with them," Lee said in a press release. "Together we will continue the agency’s work of protecting investors and ensuring market integrity.”

Of course, this is all temporary. Gensler, a former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission under President Obama, is likely to be confirmed—after the Senate gets through a raft of other pressing appointments, including Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary.

Whereas Lee has prioritized climate and sustainability, Gensler will bring some background in cryptocurrency to the agency. He's previously taught a course on Bitcoin and blockchain at MIT. In a 2019 op-ed for CoinDesk, he said, "Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have already prompted real change and can continue to do so."

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