Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, led a group of 36 Senate Republicans requesting the Department of Labor (DOL) extend the comment period for its proposed rule on the fiduciary definition.
Other groups have already expressed dissatisfaction with the 75-day timeline for comments; the Republican senators’ letter is urging the DOL to extend it to 120 days. Casting the proposed rule as potentially threatening to a wide swath of the investing public, the senators say that more time is needed for “thorough consideration of all issues and interests to make sure working and middle-income Americans are not harmed” by changes to the fiduciary standard prescribed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Citing the number of pages and accompanying analysis, the senators called the 75-day comment period inappropriate. The proposed rule and its exemptions “would significantly alter the retirement landscape for countless Americans with retirement plans,” the senators write, and would also impact investors using individual retirement accounts (IRAs), because of the expansion of fiduciary duties for investment advisers. The senators also bring up the extension the DOL granted in 2010 for consumers and stakeholders to develop opinions and submit comments on the original fiduciary redefinition proposal. The 2010 fiduciary rule was significantly shorter in length, the letter notes.
Sen. Alexander sent a letter in March warning of the potential negative impact of approving the proposed rule if the current proposal has not changed significantly from the proposal DOL offered in 2010. A group of nine Senate Democrats also sent a letter last week asking for the comment period to be extended, which the Republicans believe is a sign that bipartisan support for an extension may be growing.
The text of the senators’ letter is here.