Fiduciary, Labor Riders May Trigger Debate in Bill Markup

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By Tyrone Richardson

A move to block the Labor Department’s conflict-of-interest restrictions on retirement investment advisers could trigger a heated debate July 19 as a House committee marks up a bill to fund the DOL and NLRB.

“They’re ideological preferences on appropriations bills and that is totally inappropriate and we will fight them and we will push hard to get them to be gone,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told Bloomberg BNA July 18. DeLauro is ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

DeLauro’s comments came a day before the full committee is scheduled to mark up the FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies funding bill. The measure would fund the DOL, National Labor Relations Board, and related agencies.

In addition to prohibiting enforcement of the DOL’s fiduciary rule, other riders in the bill include provisions to rescind the NLRB’s expanded definition of joint employment liability, as well as blocking the board from exercising jurisdiction over Indian tribes.

As for the fiduciary rule, the rider comes in the midst of a presidentially mandated review by the DOL. Republicans and many financial service industry representatives have criticized the Obama-era regulation, dubbing it a measure that will dwindle options for savers.

Bipartisan Support of Joint-Employer Rider?

The joint-employer rider could get support from both Republicans and Democrats on the committee. Some moderate Democrats April 5 joined dozens of Republicans in a letter asking House appropriators to undo the board’s 2015 decision in Browning-Ferris. That ruling widened potential liability for businesses that use staffing and franchise arrangements, among others.

The committee, with its GOP majority, supports the riders, Jennifer Hing, a committee spokeswoman, told Bloomberg BNA July 18.

“The GOP members of the Committee support the bill, including policy provisions,” she said in an email.

The July 19 hearing comes a week after the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee approved the legislation along party lines, with Democrats voting against it.

Some subcommittee Democrats criticized the riders, as well as proposed cuts to the DOL’s job training programs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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