Senators File Resolution of Disapproval for Fiduciary Rule

Senators are concerned that advisers won't work with smaller accounts because of new legal liabilities associated with the fiduciary rule. 

Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, introduced a resolution to stop the Obama administration from implementing the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final fiduciary rule.

The senators filed a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to reject the administration’s new rule. The senators say it will make retirement planning unaffordable for low- to middle-income Americans whose accounts are not valuable enough for advisers to take on the new legal liability created by the rule.

“I have worked to fight the implementation of this harmful rule since it was first proposed and promised to do all I could to overturn it before it can harm Georgia families,” says Isakson, who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. “The introduction of this resolution is the next step in the battle. Like so many of this administration’s decisions, their new fiduciary rule harms the very individuals it seeks to protect and prevents those hardworking Americans who are trying to plan for retirement from having the opportunity to access retirement advice.”

Alexander says he is concerned that under the final rule, many financial advisers won’t risk the new legal liability unless their clients have large accounts.

Adds Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee: “This rule is a solution in search of a problem. Right now a kid with a paper route, a family with some savings, or a small business looking to help their employees can get retirement planning advice from an adviser without much hassle. I am concerned that this new rule will cut off access for that advice unless you have more money to pay for increased fees the rule will likely cause.”

If approved, the resolution of disapproval would allow Congress to stop the Department of Labor from implementing the rule. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate vote on a joint resolution of disapproval to stop a federal agency from implementing a rule or regulation or issuing a substantially similar regulation without congressional authorization. A resolution of disapproval only needs a simple majority to pass and cannot be filibustered or amended, if acted upon during a 60-day window. The resolution of disapproval must also be signed by the president, or Congress can overturn a veto with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House.