Congress Once Again Takes up Legislative Challenge to Fiduciary Rule

By Alisa Wolking • February 03, 2016 • 0 Comments
As the Department of Labor (DOL) moves forward with its new fiduciary standard, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives are working on legislation to address concerns that the final DOL proposal will harm access to retirement savings advice.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved two bills on Feb. 2, 2016 that address the DOL’s proposed rule:

Both bills require congressional approval of the final rule before it goes into effect and offer alternative fiduciary protection for consumers should Congress not approve it. Similar legislation was introduced in mid-December.

“These bills are an important part of a much broader effort to ensure Americans are able to retire with the financial security and peace of mind they deserve,” said Roe, who serves as Chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee’s Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee. “These bipartisan proposals will deliver the protections working families need to plan for the years ahead, and unlike other flawed proposals we’ve seen, they’ll do so without hurting those most in need.”

Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) emphasized the bipartisanship of the bills, emphasizing the importance of retirement security for workers and families. Kline called the DOL’s “back door” reproposal of its fiduciary rule a “convoluted regulatory scheme that will drive up the cost of retirement advice.”

Though both bills have both Democrat and Republican cosponsors, the committee’s final vote to move the bills forward fell strictly along party lines: 22 Republicans in favor to 14 Democrats opposing. Democrats on the committee, including Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.), urged their Republican colleagues to wait until the final rule is made public before taking congressional action.

The House Ways and Means Committee was set to mark up H.R. 4294 on Feb. 3. The committee markups come as Congress keeps retirement policy at the forefront of legislative discussions.

In late January the DOL sent its final fiduciary regulation to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has up to 90 days for review before the final regulation is released.

Alisa Wolking is the Director of Political Affairs at the American Retirement Association.