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DOL Fiduciary Rule Survives Spending Bill Axe

May 3, 2017

The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule has avoided the chopping block once again. Congress has omitted a rider that would have blocked the rule from the final version of its $1.07 trillion spending bill passed Sunday, ThinkAdvisor writes.

Nonetheless, members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urged the new head of the DOL to do “an exhaustive review” of the rule as directed in February by President Donald Trump, according to the publication. Members of the committee told Trump appointee Alexander Acosta, who started his job Monday, that the rule will prevent lower-income savers from getting adequate access to “basic investment education and assistance,” ThinkAdvisor writes. The rule, which requires retirement brokers to put clients’ interests first, was scheduled to go into effect April 10 but the DOL has delayed it by at least 60 days following Trump’s presidential memorandum.

Last week, the Financial Planning Coalition, which includes the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial, urged lawmakers to oppose any spending riders that could kill or halt the rule.

Opponents of the rule also threatened to kill it with a spending rider in 2015, but it survived that year as well.

In all, the final spending bill did away with “160 poison pill riders,” Senate Appropriations Committee vice chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said, according to ThinkAdvisor. Those riders would have harmed consumer financial protection, the Affordable Care Act and environmental protection, Leahy said.

The spending bill also freezes the SEC’s budget at $1.605 billion – which was its funding for fiscal year 2016, ThinkAdvisor writes. But it doesn’t block funding through riders that would have prevented the regulator from issuing rules on universal proxy ballots and several other issues or from revamping its rules on providing investors with paper reports, according to the publication. The final bill also omits a House provision that would have cut direct funding to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and blocked the agency from implementing rules on forced arbitration and other matters, ThinkAdvisor writes.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the ThinkAdvisor article cited in this story, click here.