After months of the SEC operating with an open vacancy after the departure of former Commissioner Kara Stein at the close of 2018, it appears the White House is finally moving forward with the nomination of Allison Lee to fill the open Democrat Commissioner slot. Lee is a former SEC Division of Enforcement attorney and an aide to Commissioner Stein. Although her nomination has been expected, it has reportedly been pending for months, angering some Democrats and liberal advocacy groups. Lee's confirmation at the SEC would provide another Democrat voice at the SEC, however, with Republicans would still have a 3-2 voting majority.
SEC Commissioners serve out a set term of five years which is not tied to the individual serving the term. Thus, if a new Commissioner replaces a Commissioner which departed prior to the expiration of the five year term, the new Commissioner's term only extends to the end of the five year term being served by their predecessor.
Lee would fill a seat expiring in 2022. However, the term for Commissioner Robert Jackson, also a Democrat, who was confirmed in 2018, will expire in 2019, although as with Commissioner Stein, Commissioner Jackson is permitted to remain in office for up to 18 months or until a successor is confirmed.
Alternatively, Republican Commissioner Hester Peirce's term is set to expire in 2020. With SEC rules allowing Commissioners to serve up to 18 months after the expiration of the term, it is possible that Lee is confirmed alone, then upon the expiration of Peirce's term, the Senate Banking Committee could seek to nominate a pair of Commissioners - one Democrat and one Republican - to the open slots for full five year terms. Nominations often occur in pairs, with a Republican and Democrat Commissioner being confirmed together.