Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle continue to pressure the Department of Labor to extend the comment period on its revised plan to amend the definition of fiduciary for retirement accounts.
On Tuesday, GOP Senators including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as well as Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has oversight authority of DOL, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, urged the department to extend the comment period to 120 days.
The current 75-day comment period, which ends on July 6, “is not an appropriate amount of time,” the Senators told Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. “The proposed rule and exemptions will have a significant effect on countless working and middle-class Americans who have worked and saved diligently to ensure a secure retirement,” the senators wrote, adding that “bipartisan support to extend the deadline is growing.”
Lawmakers asked Perez last week in two separate letters to extend the comment period by another 45 days. Industry trade groups had sent a letter to Perez in late April requesting that the comment period be extended due to the redraft’s “breadth.”
But the Save Our Retirement Coalition — which includes the AARP, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Americans for Financial Reform, Better Markets, Consumer Federation of America and Pension Rights Center — told Perez in a Friday letter to rebuff requests to extend the comment period, stating that 75 days is “ample” time for comments.
“We urge you to resist requests to extend the comment period” for DOL’s proposed fiduciary duty rule, the groups told Perez, “and continue the rulemaking process as scheduled. There is no justification for further delay in the effort to close the loopholes in the DOL’s outdated rules that are costing American workers and retirees tens of billions of dollars annually.”
The groups added that the industry’s request for an extension “also strains credibility, since they have massive resources and expertise at their disposal and can undoubtedly analyze the proposed rule and prepare their comments well within the 75-day comment period.”
Hatch said Tuesday that he would reintroduce this year his Secure Annuities for Employee (SAFE) Retirement Act, which includes language that would stop DOL from writing fiduciary rules for individual retirement accounts.
A spokesperson for Hatch’s office told ThinkAdvisor on Tuesday that while the “base” SAFE Retirement Act “will be the same,” the bill may be reintroduced with modifications, as Hatch’s office has “been talking to stakeholders and seeking input for improvement of the bill for two years.”
As to the DOL fiduciary redraft, Hatch “believes Treasury, not DOL, should draft the fiduciary duty rule for IRAs,” the spokesperson said.
— Check out Lawmakers Ask DOL’s Perez to Extend Fiduciary Comment Period on ThinkAdvisor.