Rep. Ann Wagner wasted little time in vowing to continue her efforts to defeat the Department of Labor’s rule to amend the definition of fiduciary on retirement accounts after the omnibus spending bill failed to include riders to stop DOL’s plan.
While Congress reached a deal late on Dec. 15 on the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill, supporters of DOL’s bill to amend the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act are bracing for other assaults on the rule.
A vote on the package was expected by Dec. 18, though Republicans and Democrats will hold conferences on the bill before final passage. The bill also includes a funding boost for the Securities and Exchange Commission and advances a tax extenders package.
Wagner, R-Mo., pledged that she would continue to “fight until the rule is delayed, dismantled and defeated.” She sponsored the Retail Investor Protection Act, which passed the House in late October and would require the DOL to wait for the SEC to move on its own fiduciary rule. It’s “now more important than ever that the Senate act immediately and take up this important piece of legislation,” she said.
President Barack Obama, Wagner continued, “continues to ignore over 100 Democrats in Congress who have expressed concerns” with DOL’s proposed rule. “Instead, this president has decided to stand with big-government liberals like Sen. Elizabeth Warren. As a result, the ability of low- and middle-income Americans to receive affordable financial advice for their retirement is now in jeopardy.”
But a rider to the spending bill was opponents’ “best opportunity to kill the rule before it was completed,” said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America.
Once the fiduciary rule is finalized, Congress could pass a resolution to disapprove the rule within 60 days under the Congressional Review Act. But President Barack Obama would likely veto such a resolution.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., commented after the omnibus deal was struck that Democrats were able to “beat back” Republicans’ attempts to “undermine” DOL’s fiduciary rules as well as weaken Dodd-Frank banking regulations.
The spending bill also includes $1.61 billion for the SEC, $105 million more than the 2015 enacted level. SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White has said that the agency would use some of the increase in funds to add to its stable of examiners.
But the bill includes no new funding for the Affordable Care Act or the Internal Revenue Service.
The House Rules Committee met on Dec. 16 to consider the omnibus bill as well as the tax extenders package. The House was expected to vote Dec. 17 on the tax extenders package, which is tangled up in the omnibus bill.