President Donald J. Trump signed an order Friday freezing all government regulations in the works, even those published but not yet in effect.
The Department of Labor fiduciary rule falls into that latter group. However, the Trump-ordered 60-day delay will not affect the fiduciary rule timeline -- yet.
Scheduled to begin taking effect April 10, 2017, or just beyond the 60-day window, the DOL rule raises the advice standards for anyone working with retirement funds.
Opponents are looking to Trump to delay and/or kill the fiduciary rule. While the immediate delay has no impact, the memo Trump signed allows department heads to delay further if needed.
“Where appropriate and as permitted by applicable law, you should consider proposing for notice and comment a rule to delay the effective date for regulations beyond that 60-day period,” the memo stated.
The administration may wait until DOL secretary nominee Andrew Puzder is confirmed before taking more formal action to block the fiduciary rule. Puzder is expected to appear for his Senate confirmation hearing early next month.
Four lawsuits to stop the DOL rule are ongoing in the federal court system. DOL rule opponents have lost two decisions, in Washington, D.C. and Kansas courts.
Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn has yet to rule on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce vs. Department of Labor lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas. Lynn presided over a Nov. 17 hearing on the lawsuit.
A fourth lawsuit, filed by Thrivent Financial, will be heard March 3 in a Minnesota courtroom.
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., introduced a bill Jan. 6 that would delay the DOL rule’s effective date by two years.
Wilson's Protecting American Families’ Retirement Advice Act calls the DOL rule “one of the most costly, burdensome regulations to come from the Obama Administration.
"Rather than making retirement advice and financial stability more accessible for American families, they have disrupted the client-fiduciary relationship, increased costs, and limited access."
Absent a court victory or bipartisan agreement on legislation, which seems unlikely, the Trump administration will have to introduce a new regulation to permanently kill the rule.
Meanwhile, Trump met with business leaders today and reiterated his campaign pledge to lower taxes for companies, as well as the middle class, "anywhere from 15 to 25 percent." He also called for cutting 75 percent of regulations, although he insisted that doing so would not compromise worker safety.
Trump warned business leaders that he would impose a "substantial border tax" on companies that move their manufacturing out of the United States, while promising tax advantages to companies that produce products domestically.
"All you have to do is stay," he said during a morning meeting in the White House's Roosevelt Room.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin were among the executives who attended the meeting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected].