House lawmakers are being asked to co-sign a draft letter circulating on Capitol Hill asking the Department of Labor to hold another 15- to 30-day comment period on its fiduciary rule before finalizing it.
The draft letter, penned by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., a member of the House Rules and Education and Workforce committees, states that “upon determining the specific changes” DOL will make to its conflict of interest rule under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, that the department “open a 15- to 30-day comment period prior to finalizing” the rule.
Such a comment period would not disrupt DOL’s “intended timeline of implementing the rule by the end of 2016 while complying with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA),” the draft letter states.
In order to stick to this timeline, the draft letter states, DOL “can submit the rule to OMB for an expedited review period, which could last less than a week, as has been the case during multiple other rulemakings.” It is within DOL’s “legal authority,” the letter states, “to request and receive this expedited timeline.”
The draft letter cites a supplemental shortened comment period that was found to be legal in 2001 under the APA in Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel v. FCC by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“Given the significance of this rule in the lives of all Americans, particularly middle-class individuals, and the existing precedent for providing a supplemental comment period, we strongly encourage you to consider this approach,” the letter states.
But Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a group that advocates for investor protection, told House lawmakers in a Thursday letter that reopening the comment period “would only open the floodgates to another round of comments, which will oblige the DOL to undertake yet another lengthy and protracted review process.”