California Republican Rep. Christopher Cox will serve as the new chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, after the Senate confirmed President Bush's pick alongside Democrats Roel Campos and Annette Nazareth, who will round out the five-member panel.

The confirmations came late Friday, just before the Senate broke for its August recess.

Cox has been called a free-market conservative, but testified before the Senate that he would be a strong enforcer of securities laws and, specifically, would not overturn a controversial plan to require companies to treat stock options as an expense. Former chair William Donaldson, also a nominee of President Bush's, frequently sided with the panel's Democrats and was criticized by business interests as a hardliner.

Cox, who has represented Orange County since 1989, will resign his House seat to take over a term running through June 2009. During his time in Congress, Cox backed reductions in the taxation of dividends and capital gains, rules making it harder for investors to sue public companies, and legislation banning state taxes on purchases from online retailers.

One of the first challenges that the panel will face is a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The business group opposed a controversial SEC rule renewed on June 30, the last day of Donaldson's tenure. The rule requires that the chairman of a mutual fund and three quarters of its directors be independent of the company.

Campos and Nazareth already work for the SEC. Campos is a member of the panel and will serve a new term running through June 2010. Nazareth is director of the SEC's Division of Market Regulation, and will take over a term expiring in June 2007.

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