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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > DOL

Biden's Pick for a Key DOL Post Loses Senate Vote

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The full Senate voted 49-51 on Wednesday against Lisa Gomez to lead the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, the agency overseeing retirement plan rules.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., voted no, but he entered a motion to reconsider Gomez’s nomination.

“Senate rules allow that if the majority leader votes no, he can recall the vote at a later time,” an industry expert told ThinkAdvisor.

If confirmed, Gomez is to be the point person on helping the Labor Department shepherd a new fiduciary rule.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education Labor & Pensions Committee, said in a statement, that the 49-51 result “showed there are enough votes to confirm Gomez to the position, and Majority Leader Schumer’s vote against the nomination will allow him to bring it to the floor again for a successful confirmation vote soon.”

Murray said she fully supports “Gomez’s nomination to lead EBSA, and am confident she’s the right person for the job. The vote today shows that we will ultimately have the votes we need to confirm this highly qualified nominee—and I look forward to getting that done as soon as possible.”

President Joe Biden renominated Gomez, an ERISA attorney, on Jan. 4. She is a partner at Cowen, Weiss and Simon in New York.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved by a 12-9 vote on Jan. 14 Gomez’s nomination to head EBSA.

Ali Khawar, acting assistant secretary for Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, said on May 19 at the Insured Retirement Institute’s annual conference in Washington that Labor will factor in other agency rulemakings, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest, as it crafts its fiduciary rule.

As to when Labor’s new fiduciary rule will land at the Office of Management and Budget for review, Khawar declined to offer a date.

When asked at the IRI conference if EBSA is waiting for ERISA attorney Gomez to be approved by the Senate before sending the fiduciary rule to OMB, Khawar told reporters: “No. On any number of issues the question really is whether or not we’re ready to go, not whether the right person is in place.”

In her confirmation hearing last October before the Senate HELP Committee, Gomez said that if confirmed, she looks forward to working with the SEC as well as with Labor “to be briefed on the efforts of looking at the definition of a fiduciary in different contexts, and taking another look at the conflict of interest rule and how it would apply in different situations.”

Pictured: Lisa Gomez


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