New Anti-Fiduciary Bill Faces Long, Long Odds

By Charles Paikert
December 18, 2015

Here we go again.

Three congressmen -- one Republican and two Democrats -- are trying to stop the Department of Labor's proposal to craft a fiduciary rule for retirement advice.

There's only one problem – and it’s a major one.  A rider to the omnibus budget bill also designed to kill off the DoL proposal never became part of the budget. And the budget, newly approved by Congress, is set to be signed by President Obama and become law.

Opponents of the DoL proposal lobbied furiously to get the rider into the omnibus bill.

They failed. Neither of the top Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan or Sen. Mitch McConnell, apparently thought it was worth the effort to save it. Most Capitol Hill observers believe the omnibus bill was the last, best chance for the DoL opponents to sway Congress.

Undaunted, however, Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and John Larson (D-Conn.) are introducing legislative proposals to try to once again strangle the DoL proposal before it becomes law.

According to a statement from the congressmen, the bills are a "response to a Department of Labor regulatory proposal that many fear will reduce access to financial advice for low- and middle-income families. The bills represent a legislative compromise that will protect consumers and keep high-quality financial advice affordable for all Americans."

The Strengthening Access to Valuable Education and Retirement Support Act, led by Roskam, and the Affordable Retirement Advice Protection Act, led by Roe, would require an affirmative vote by Congress before any final rule by the Department of Labor goes into effect.

The proposals, the congressmen say, "require advisors to serve their clients’ best interests, strengthen protections for retirement savers, and maintain access to quality financial advice for small businesses and low- and middle-income Americans.”