DOL Fiduciary Rule has slim chance of defeat, but brokers must keep fighting: Rep. Mulvaney

Calling the Department of Labor’s planned rule to amend the definition of fiduciary under ERISA “awful,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., urged advisors Thursday to start lobbying their senators to slow down DOL’s plan.

“Go to the Senate, knock on the door and see them,” Mulvaney, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, told the 1,300 attendees at Commonwealth Financial Network’s annual conference in Washington. The full House, he said, “has done its work” with the recent passage of Rep. Ann Wagner’s bill, H.R. 1090, the Retail Investor Protection Act.

Wagner’s bill, he said, “delays implementation” of DOL’s rulemaking until the Securities and Exchange Commission “has a chance to weigh in” with its own fiduciary rule. The bill, he added, “allows the SEC to be a full partner in the [DOL] rulemaking process.”

Mulvaney told Commonwealth reps that their message to senators should pointedly state that under DOL’s fiduciary plan “we will no longer be able to serve middle-class people who need us the most.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., should be the first senator on their list to visit, Mulvaney said, because Warren “carries a lot of weight on financial issues in the Senate.”

Both Mulvaney and Dale Brown, president and CEO of the Financial Services Institute, who also spoke at the Commonwealth event, conceded that while chances are “slim” to stop DOL’s rulemaking, advisors need to be engaged in opposing it.

One of the “keys” to opposing DOL’s rule, Brown told the audience, is “your engagement in this [lobbying] process. You have a professional responsibility to your business and clients to get engaged as a citizen lobbyist.”

Brown said the recently introduced bipartisan legislation designed to “protect the retirement savings of all Americans” from the upcoming release DOL’s rule along with attempts to include language in an omnibus spending bill, are not “silver bullets” to solve the ultimate release of DOL’s rulemaking.

Indeed, Mulvaney stated that he and other representatives are pushing to ensure that a spending bill that includes defunding language is finalized before Christmas. “We could pass the bill to say that can’t use any of the money to implement this rule,” he said, but the “Senate has not passed an appropriations bill in the last five years.”

Mulvaney conceded that presidential backing of DOL’s fiduciary rulemaking adds to the likelihood of not being able to stop the rule. However, there is “one brief ray of hope,” he said, in that DOL’s rule could be reversed by the next administration.

“I do think [DOL’s rule] will go into place,” Mulvaney said, “but with a different person in the White House — Democrat or Republican — the level of commitment to it [the rule] may be different.”

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