Labor Secretary Solis Resigns

Solis said that her decision was made not to serve a second term in the Obama administration over the holiday break

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced Wednesday that she is resigning after four years as head of the Department of Labor.

Solis said in a statement that her decision was made not to serve a second term in the Obama administration over the holiday break. “Over the Christmas and New Year holidays with my family in California, I enjoyed my first opportunity in years to reflect on the past and my future, with an open mind and an open heart,” she said. “After much discussion with family and close friends, I have decided to begin a new future, and return to the people and places I love and that have inspired and shaped my life."

President Barack Obama issued a statement the same day calling Solis “a tireless champion for working families.” Over the last four years, “Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class,” Obama said. “Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers’ health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work. I am grateful to Secretary Solis for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the administration, but on behalf of the American people. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Last March, lawmakers took Solis to task over how the DOL’s recrafting of its fiduciary rule is progressing—specifically how the department is collaborating with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the timing of the reproposed rule, and the rule’s inclusion of individual retirement accounts (IRAs).

Phyllis Borzi, assistant secretary for the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, told AdvisorOne in early December that EBSA plans to repropose a revised version of its controversial rule to amend the definition of fiduciary under ERISA during the first half of this year.

Fred Reish, partner and chairman of the financial services ERISA team at Drinker Biddle & Reath in Los Angeles, says that Solis' departure will likely have no impact on Borzi moving forward with a reproposal. The timing of a revised fiduciary rule "could depend on who replaces" Solis, Reish says. However, he adds, "My prognosis is that the new proposal is largely drafted and should be sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the next 60 days." It's unlikely, he continues, "that there will be a new Secretary before then, particularly considering how the Republicans in the Senate seem to be contentious about the White House appointees."

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