A House government funding bill would stop enactment of the Obama administration's "fiduciary rule" on conflicts of interest in retirement investing, which the Trump administration has been unable to do administratively.
The funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education released by the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday would prevent the Labor Department from enforcing the rule.
The fiduciary rule would require advisers and brokers who work with tax-privileged accounts, such as IRAs, to act in their clients' best interests. Before the Labor Department wrote the rule last year, some investment professionals were not required to meet that standard. The Obama administration said savers lost out on billions of dollars annually because unscrupulous advisers steered them into inappropriate investments for which the advisers received kickbacks.
Republicans sought to stop the rule from going into effect, arguing that it would force some advisers to drop clients, reducing their access to professional investment advice.
Although President Trump targeted the rule for review early after taking office, it began going into effect last month. Newly installed Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said he did not have the authority to stop the regulation, given laws governing administrative procedure.
The measure included in the bill announced Wednesday gives Republicans one more shot at stopping the rule. It is far from guaranteed — the provision could be taken out in the House, or the Senate, or Congress could fund the government through a totally different legislative track.
House Republicans also have introduced standalone legislation to replace the rule. The Trump administration is also considering changes to the existing regulation.
On Wednesday, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, a Trump appointee, said he would like his agency to write a conflict-of-interest rule for all investment advisers, working with the Labor Department. Doing so in a way that doesn't restrict access, though, would be "complex," he said.