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As Labor Department Stonewalls, Committee Demands Answers on Fiduciary Rulemaking

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) have renewed a request for information regarding a regulatory proposal to expand the definition of “fiduciary” under theEmployee Retirement Income Security Act. In the latest in a series of letters to the Department of Labor (DOL), the members ask for documents and communications related to the department’s coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during the drafting and revision of a proposal to redefine the fiduciary standard. In a letter to Secretary Thomas Perez, the members write:

As you know from our previous inquiries, the Committee is concerned with the potential impact of this complex initiative on workers and retirees and believes any rulemaking on this matter should be the product of coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Unfortunately, despite two previous inquires, the Committee has yet to receive compelling evidence from DOL that meaningful coordination has taken place between DOL and the SEC.

The committee wrote first to the department on March 4, 2015, and again on March 24, 2015, seeking information and communications between DOL and SEC related to the fiduciary rule proposal. On both occasions, the department failed to provide the requested information. In its latest letter, DOL stated the communications are part of its deliberative process. However, as the members state in their letter:

The Committee disagrees that documents can be shielded from Constitutionally-authorized Congressional oversight for this reason. Furthermore, the claim is particularly inappropriate in this case where the materials sought involve communications between different agencies. Indeed, the administration has specifically publicized its coordination with the SEC (including claims that SEC provided significant technical assistance) both in its responses to our earlier inquiries and in public relations information disseminated by the Department.  It defies explanation that DOL would assert publicly that coordination with the SEC took place and yet refuse to release documents substantiating its assertion.

The members are requesting relevant documents and communications by June 16, 2015, along with a log identifying potentially responsive documents.

The full letter is available here.

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