GOP Lawmakers Press DOL to Reissue Amended Fiduciary Rule

More than 100 House Republicans told Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in an Oct. 6 letter to tell them by Oct. 21 how the Department of Labor will make “substantial changes” to “shortcomings” in its fiduciary plan, but to also allow stakeholders to view those changes before issuing a final rule.

The letter, sent by Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Sam Johnson, R-Texas, both members of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Perez that “given the scope of the necessary changes and the significant consequences for retirement savers — especially those with smaller account balances — we strongly urge you to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to review the changes” before the rule advances and is submitted to the Office of Management and Budget.

The lawmakers said that while they support a best interest standard, they have “serious reservations that the details of the current proposal will severely disrupt the availability of affordable financial education and investment advice while also restricting product choice and retirement security for many American families.”

Three former heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that the SEC should move on a fiduciary rule, with former SEC chief Harvey Pitt predicting that while DOL may be “ahead now” in its fiduciary rulemaking, the department may not “finish ahead.”

Once DOL proposes its rule, Pitt said, “there will be a lot of behind-the-scene discourse to try to accommodate the disparities that exist” between DOL and SEC in terms of fiduciary regulation. “We saw that in the swaps regulation with the SEC and the CFTC; they regulate the exact same conduct differently.”

The comment period on DOL’s rule to amend the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ended on Sept. 24. Opponents to DOL’s rule are taking issue with the fact that Perez has stated DOL will issue a final rule after considering the comments received.