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Chairwoman Foxx Opening Statement: Markup of H.R. 2823, the Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act

After decades of hard work, retirement should be a time to spend with family and grandchildren, explore new hobbies, and simply enjoy life.
 
But today, Americans across the country are having a hard time putting enough money aside for their retirement years.

It can be very challenging. Many individuals don’t even know where to begin, and so they turn to a trusted financial advisor to help them plan for the future.
 
Here in Washington, we need to do everything we can to empower more Americans to retire with the financial security they need. And we have a responsibility to ensure misguided federal policies don’t stand in the way.
 
That’s exactly why this committee has led the fight against the Obama administration’s flawed fiduciary rule for the past seven years.

Since the regulatory process began in 2010, we’ve repeatedly warned that the rule will lead to higher costs and fewer options for hardworking men and women as they save for retirement.

We’ve held numerous hearings over the years, sent countless oversight letters, urged the Obama administration to take a more reasonable approach, and passed a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act when they failed to listen.

Last year, we even advanced bipartisan legislation that would have achieved the Obama administration’s stated goal of enhancing protections for retirement savers. The main difference was that it didn’t restrict access to affordable retirement advice for low- and middle-income individuals.

It wasn’t just Republicans who raised concerns as the Obama administration crafted this fundamentally flawed rule. Let’s not forget that many of our concerns were echoed by congressional Democrats.

In a 2015 letter to former Secretary of Labor Perez, 100 House Democrats wrote that “it is vital that the proposal doesn’t limit consumer choice and access to advice, have a disproportionate impact on lower- and middle-income communities, or raise the costs of saving for retirement.”

Along those same lines, a group of Senate Democrats wrote that “it is important that any guidance enhance and not diminish savings opportunities for small businesses and moderate income families.”

These concerns expressed by Democrats are precisely why we continue to oppose the fiduciary rule.

Here we are today with a rule that’s completely unworkable and so complicated and burdensome that it will cause millions of Americans to lose access to their trusted financial advisors. According to the American Action Forum, the rule imposes $46 billion in costs on retirement savers.

Many small business owners — who are already struggling to offer retirement plans — may soon find they no longer have access to the critical advice they need to set up retirement plans for their employees.

Already, firms are beginning to drop the types of account options Americans with fewer savings often rely on.

A recent report found that 71 percent of financial advisors will stop providing advice to many savers with lower account balances in response to the rule. And it notes that up to seven million retirement savers could lose access to retirement advice altogether.

These are consequences the American people cannot afford. We all agree that financial advisors should act in good faith. But we can achieve that shared goal without hurting low- and middle-income families and employees of small businesses.

This issue should have always been addressed by Congress, not government bureaucrats. It’s an issue that impacts the retirement security of Americans across the country, and the people’s representatives should address it legislatively.

That’s why we are here today. It’s time to put an end to this convoluted regulatory scheme and advance meaningful solutions that will improve protections for retirement savers.

The Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act will overturn the fiduciary rule to ensure every American has access to the tools they need to save for retirement. It also amends federal law to require retirement advisors to act in the best interests of their clients. Again, legislation — not 1,000 pages of red tape — is the right way to do this.

I want to thank our colleague, Representative Roe, for championing this effort for years. Members of both parties have supported similar legislation in the past. It is my hope Republicans and Democrats can come together once again. The American people are depending on us to do just that.