The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved President Bush's nomination of Rep. Christopher Cox (search) to be the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The committee also endorsed the nominations of Roel Campos (search) and Annette Nazareth (search) to fill two Democratic positions on the five-member SEC.

All three officials were approved by unanimous voice votes, clearing the way for them to be taken up by the full Senate before idirector of the Office of Thrift Supervision, succeeding James Gilleran. Both the Office of the Comptroller and the Office of Thrift Supervision are financial regulatory divisions under the Treasury Department.

Cox, a Republican who has represented a California district in the House for 16 years, was selected by the president last month following the surprise resignation of William Donaldson, who had been picked by Bush to help restore confidence in a stock market shaken by corporate scandals in 2002.

Business interests, who had chafed under Donaldson's regulatory activism, had hailed the selection of Cox, a former corporate lawyer and a free-market conservative. But at a confirmation hearing last week, Cox pledged to oversee vigorous enforcement of the nation's securities laws.

Campos, a current SEC commissioner, was nominated by Bush to serve a second term on the SEC while Nazareth, who currently is director of the SEC's market regulation unit, was picked to replace Commissioner Harvey Goldschmid, who is stepping down to return to teaching law at Columbia University.

Senate Democrats had insisted that the two nominations for Democratic slots on the SEC be packaged with Cox's nomination.

Cox could shift the balance of power at the agency, which in recent years has found itself split 3 to 2 on several key regulatory votes with the Republican Donaldson siding with the two Democrats on the panel.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., commenting on the unanimous support of the three SEC nominees said it showed the bipartisan nature of the Senate Banking Committee.

"None of them represent a knee-jerk antibusiness position ... or a knee-jerk anti-regulatory position," Schumer said of the nominees