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Plan Fee Bill Stalls

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The author of H.R. 3185, a 401(k) plan fee disclosure bill, says it is dead, but the U.S. Department of Labor is continuing to work on completing proposed disclosure regulations.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor committee, won approval for H.R. 3185 from the committee in April.

But “we’re not going to move it,” Miller told Congress Daily. “We don’t see the president signing it. And, with the amount of time left, it’s just too difficult to get anything through the Senate anyway.”

“Given the short time left in this Congress, and that Senate action is clearly not possible, it makes sense to wait till the next Congress” to try to move a disclosure bill, says Brian Graff, executive director of the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries, Arlington, Va., which supports Miller’s bill.

The issues involved are too important to be resolved in a hurried manner, says Jason Hammersla, a spokesman for the American Benefits Council, Washington.

“We appreciate all the hard work and thought that Congress put into the examination of 401(k) plan fees and disclosure practices,” Hammersla says. “However, we believe caution in this area is prudent, given that so many workers depend on these plans for their retirement savings, and a rush to legislate could have unintended consequences for these individuals.”

The Labor Department said earlier this year that it would try to release its own final 401(k) plan fee disclosure regulations this spring.

“Depending on your definition of that, they could still be on time,” Hammersla says.

In hearings, representatives for large plan services vendors have argued that detailed service cost breakdown requirements could be expensive and not especially helpful to employers.

ASPPA has argued on behalf of smaller plan services providers that requiring vendors to break down the cost of “bundled” services could help employers do a better job of analyzing and comparing vendor costs.


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