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In yesterday’s Qualified Plan Advocate Newsletter, we described the DOL’s intention to delay the effective date of the Fiduciary regulation as it investigates various potential effects outlined in an Executive Order. It now appears that such an investigation will begin without President Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Labor.
After weeks of mounting pressure, Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination to become the new DOL secretary. Mr. Puzder’s certification from the Office of Government Ethics took longer than any of the President’s other initial cabinet nominees, as he encountered attacks from various directions about different aspects of his background. Over the last 48 hours, media outlets began to report that at least four, and perhaps as many as twelve, Republican Senators intended to join the Democrats in voting against Mr. Puzder’s nomination. When it became apparent yesterday that he did not have the requisite votes, he withdrew.
This sets up more twists and turns on the Fiduciary regulation’s winding road. President Trump ordered the DOL to carefully consider whether to delay, modify, and/or abandon the regulation. Skeptics have expressed concern about the motivations underlying that consideration and whether there is any genuine possibility the regulation may remain in place. For example, Senator Elizabeth Warren had sent Mr. Puzder a 28-page letter, which included many questions and insinuations that the DOL’s review would not be prioritizing American investors’ interests.
The waiting game begins again. Who will be the new nominee? How long might the process take? In the meantime, who will put in motion the anticipated review process? (In other words, to whom will Senator Warren address an updated version of the 28-page letter she previously sent to Mr. Puzder)? And, if Congress actually takes a run at repealing and potentially replacing the Affordable Care Act, who will speak for the DOL’s perspective on such proposals? You may read about it on Twitter, but we’ll be sure to write about it here too. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Late this morning, we learned that President Trump intends to nominate Alexander Acosta to serve as Labor secretary. We will be tracking that process over the upcoming weeks.
Matthew Eickman
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