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Lobbyists Gear Up to Prod New Congress on User Fees, Retirement, Cybersecurity

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Industry trade groups will be pushing the Republican-controlled Congress to focus on issues such as retirement income, tax reform, housing finance, cybersecurity and legislation to allow the Securities and Exchange Commission to collect user fees to help boost advisor exams.

Under the GOP-controlled Congress, the Investment Adviser Association will be looking to gain backers of bipartisan user-fee legislation, says Karen Barr, IAA’s president and CEO.

The “Republican leadership will be looking to show that they can get things done and improve operation of the federal government, and this presents us with an opportunity to gain Republican support for [a] user-fee bill in both chambers,” Barr says.

Barr adds that IAA is hoping to “impress upon lawmakers on both sides of the aisle” that a user-fee bill “is sorely needed,” as it is “sound bipartisan public policy that will make the SEC more effective, better protect investors and not cost the taxpayers a nickel.”

The House user-fees bill, H.R. 1627, the Investment Adviser Examination Improvement Act of 2013, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., currently has 25 co-sponsors, with Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., being the most recent one to throw her support behind the bill on Sept. 15.

In the new Congress, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., will take over for retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., as head of the Senate Banking Committee, while the House Financial Services Committee will continue to be chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. Both of these committees have SEC oversight responsibilities.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will replace Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The House Ways and Means Committee, the tax writing committee in Congress, will likely be headed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Dale Brown, president and CEO of the Financial Services Institute, noted in a statement that FSI looks forward to working with lawmakers “to enhance investor protection and expand access to affordable and objective financial advice for Main Street.”

As Washington “shifts its collective attention to issues such as tax reform and the retirement crisis, we will remain vigilant in our advocacy efforts, and continue our constructive engagement with regulators as well as legislators on both sides of the aisle,” Brown said.

The Financial Services Roundtable sees the federal housing finance system as “one of the biggest hurdles to economic growth, and Congress should work together to quickly bring a conclusion to this longstanding economic barrier,” said Eric Hoplin, FSR’s executive director, in a Wednesday statement.

The FSR supports winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replacing them with a new secondary mortgage market backed by private capital, with government backing as a last resort.

FSR also urges Congress to pass “threat information sharing legislation,” as cyberattacks are another “major threat” to the nation’s economy. “Too many consumers have recently felt the impact of these criminal acts and Congress should move aggressively to help companies, across all industries, better protect their customers by passing threat information sharing legislation,” Hoplin said.

FSR said it also encourages Congress “to work together on common-sense reforms to deliver business and regulatory certainty such as passing a long-term extension” of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), “passing a fix to provide flexibility on capital standards for nonbanks, and ensuring tax reform encourages more people to save for retirement.”

— Check out Valliere: Despite Victory, Republicans Shouldn’t Think Voters Love Them on ThinkAdvisor.


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