The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
NAIFA stands ready to work with legislators on key industry issues including tax reform, healthcare and financial services reform
By Diane Boyle
The election is over and the country still remains divided between red states and blue states. In the Senate, Democrats picked up two seats, bringing the current split to 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and 2 Independents who will likely caucus with the Democrats—keeping both parties from the critical 60 vote majority needed to avoid a filibuster and cut off debate on contentious legislation. Since filibusters are not allowed in the House, the Republicans keep their comfortable majority above the 218 (or 50 percent) threshold needed to maintain control and pass legislation.
So, if Washington has maintained the status quo, what do we need to know about the makeup of Congress?
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT): Sen. Tester serves on the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance, and he has been a staunch advocate for the insurance agent and advisor community. He is the lead Senate Democrat sponsor of NAIFA-supported legislationto achieve agent licensing reform through the creation of a National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB). He took a lead role to push back with the Department of Labor on their efforts to redefine who will be an ERISA fiduciary. Also, together with Senator David Vitter (R-LA), he shepherded the hard-fought National Flood Insurance Program extension and reform bill through the Senate.
Rep. John Barrow (D-GA): Rep. Barrow is the lead Democrat sponsor of H.R. 1206, the medical loss ratio fix bill advocated by NAIFA. Along with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Rep. Barrow succeeded in reporting the bill out of the Energy & Commerce Committee.
Former Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY):Rep. Maffei will be returning to Congress following a narrow defeat in 2010. During his previous service in Congress, Rep. Maffei served as a member of the House Financial Services Committee. During the Dodd-Frank Act negotiations, it was Rep. Maffei who sponsored the NAIFA-championed amendment to ensure that a broker-dealer or registered rep subject to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-defined fiduciary duty can never be in violation of the duty if they only sell the securities that they are contractually obligated to sell. That important “proprietary products” safe harbor was a major accomplishment for NAIFA’s advocacy efforts during the Dodd-Frank debates.
Leadership and Committee Expectations
As of this writing, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to retain his post as Speaker of the House. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is expected to remain the House's Majority Leader and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will likely continue as whip.
On the Democratic side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will remain as the leader. The second-ranking Democrat, Steny Hoyer (D-MD), is expected to retain his post as party whip. Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-SC) is slated to maintain his position.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to keep his leadership position. It is presumed that Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) will remain Majority Whip and that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will continue to play a significant role as Vice Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
On the Republican side, it is expected that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will remain Senate Minority Leader. Either Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) or current National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) is likely to replace retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) as Minority Whip.
NAIFA members and staff are eager to engage decision makers at every level of the legislative and regulatory system as we work to advocate for our industry in the coming year.
Diane Boyle is vice president of federal government relations for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA).