Senate Republicans Still Hopeful on Blocking Fiduciary Rule

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By Chris Opfer

Nov. 3 — Republicans will continue to push a slew of labor policy riders as part of ongoing government funding negotiations, including one that would block the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule, the chairmen of the Senate Appropriations Committee and one of its subcommittees told Bloomberg BNA.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the full panel, said Nov. 3 that he’s “optimistic” some of the riders in the appropriations bill for the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services (S. 1695) pending in the chamber will be included in whatever government funding measure eventually makes it to President Barack Obama's desk for signature. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chairman of the committee's Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said he remains “hopeful” about the riders.

Republicans are looking to use the appropriations process to block the DOL's fiduciary, or conflict-of-interest, rule (RIN 1210-AB32) for retirement advisers, among other initiatives.

The lawmakers declined to say whether they will prioritize any particular policy riders as appropriations discussions continue over the month. Blunt noted, however, that some Democrats have previously raised concerns about the proposed fiduciary rule, which would extend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's conflict-of-interest requirements to brokers handling workers' retirement savings.

“I think there is broad bipartisan concern about it and that clearly puts it high on the list,” Blunt said. “I believe there's a majority of both the House and the Senate [that] opposes what the Labor Department is trying to do and believes there is a better place to do it and that's the SEC.”

Although the DOL scrapped a previous version of the rule in 2011 as a result of at least some bipartisan concern, only three Democrats crossed the aisle Oct. 27 to help pass House legislation (H.R. 1090) to stop the rule (207 DLR A-14, 10/27/15)(13 WLR 43, 10/30/15)(42 BPR 1895, 11/3/15)(105 BBR 637, 11/2/15)(208 PBD 208, 10/28/15)(17 BDCR 43, 10/28/15)(208 SLD 208, 10/28/15)(See previous story, 10/28/15)(208 DTR G-6, 10/28/15). Republicans will need the support of at least some Democrats to get the 60 votes necessary to avoid a filibuster on labor and other appropriations legislation.

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