House Panels to Hold Hearing on DOL Fiduciary Rule

Joint hearing by Capital Markets, Oversight subcommittees said to lead to markup of bill to make SEC go first on fiduciary

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. (Photo: AP) Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. (Photo: AP)

The House Financial Services Capital Markets and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees plan to hold a joint hearing Sept. 10 on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule to redefine the definition of fiduciary on retirement accounts.

While the joint hearing has yet to be officially announced, industry officials say it will lead to a markup of Rep. Ann Wagner’s bill, H.R. 2374, the Retail Investor Protection Act, which requires the DOL to wait to repropose its rule until the Securities and Exchange Commission issues its own fiduciary rulemaking.

Wagner reintroduced her bill on Feb. 25. While the bill could pass the House Financial Services Committee, it would likely not be taken up in the Senate.

Industry officials say the most dangerous threat to DOL’s fiduciary rulemaking will come through a rider attached to either the fiscal 2016 appropriations bill or Continuing Resolution, which will seek to defund the department’s efforts to complete or enforce its fiduciary rule.

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have offered funding bills that state that “none” of the DOL’s funds may be used to “finalize, implement, administer or enforce” its proposed rule to redefine fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

But Labor Secretary Tom Perez told Wagner in an Aug. 7 letter that DOL has “undertaken incredibly thorough public outreach over the past five years” as it has designed the proposal, and that DOL would also consider the issues raised during the spate of August hearings about its fiduciary plan and “move forward toward issuing a final rule that balances the input we have received.”

The DOL held hearings on its fiduciary redraft from Aug. 10-14; a DOL spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor Tuesday that the transcript of those hearings has not yet been published. Once the transcript is published, public comments will be taken for approximately two to three weeks.  

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