As expected, the Senate Banking Committee voted Thursday to recommend confirmation of President Bush's three nominees to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the nominations before the end of the week and the start of Congress's August recess. The nominations include Republican Rep. Christopher Cox as SEC chair and two Democrats already working for the commission.

On Tuesday, Cox, who has been labeled a free-market conservative, told the committee he would be a strong enforcer of securities laws and, specifically, would not overturn a controversial plan to require companies to treat stock option as an expense. He also offered praise for former chair William Donaldson, who stepped down on June 30 and was frequently criticized by business interests as a hardliner.

Cox was extensively questioned about his work as a securities lawyer in the 1980s for First Pension Corp., which was sued in 1994 for defrauding investors. The company's founder eventually pleaded guilty to felony charges and Cox, who was removed as a defendant in the lawsuit, denied any knowledge of wrongdoing.

The Senate panel also voted to endorse two Democratic nominees, Roel Campos and Annette Nazareth. Already a member of the five-person panel, Campos is being re-nominated for a term running through June 2010. Nazareth is director of the SEC's division of market regulation and will take over a term set to expire in June 2007.Cox's term would run through June 2009. Cox, who has spent 17 years representing Orange County in California, would resign his House seat once confirmed by the Senate.

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