Fiduciary Rule Rider to Funding Bill Still on Republican Lists

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By Chris Opfer

Dec. 3 — Republicans are continuing to push a rider to block the Labor Department's fiduciary rule as government funding negotiations head down to the wire.

A rider to block funding for the proposed rule, which would tighten conflict-of-interest restrictions on retirement advisers under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, was among those included in Republicans' opening proposal for an omnibus package to fund the government through the rest of the year. Although Democrats promptly rejected that offer, some supporters have said the rider has a better shot than others at becoming law because a number of Democrats have expressed concerns about the rule (224 PBD, 11/20/15)(42 BPR 2012, 11/24/15).

“We know that there are Democrats who have written letters expressing their concerns, so that seems like it might have a chance,” Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) told Bloomberg BNA on Dec. 3, referring to the fiduciary rule rider. Kline chairs the Education and the Workforce Committee and has been critical of the rule, saying it will make it more difficult for workers to get information and advice about retirement investments.

In September, 96 House Democrats signed a letter outlining a list of recommendations for improving the rule (RIN 1210-AB32) before it's finalized (42 BPR 1709, 9/29/15)(186 PBD, 9/25/15). A group of 47 House Democrats one month later urged Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez to reopen the public comment period for up to four weeks before issuing the final version of the rule (232 PBD, 12/3/15) (see related article in this issue).

Still, Rep. Rosa DeLauro told reporters Dec. 3 that the fiduciary rule rider is a “non-starter.” DeLauro, ranking member of a House Appropriations subcommittee, declined to say what—if any—policy riders Democrats included in the counteroffer they sent late Dec. 2.

“I understand negotiations—maybe you dump the kitchen sink—but it isn't serious,” DeLauro, ranking member of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, said of the Republican proposal. A continuing resolution currently keeping the government open for business is set to expire Dec. 11.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in Washington at copfer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com