Trump nominates Senate aide for post overseeing DOL fiduciary rule

If confirmed, Preston Rutledge would serve as assistant secretary of Labor and head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration

Oct 13, 2017 @ 12:53 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

A senior Senate aide has been tapped to head the Labor Department's office with direct authority over the agency's fiduciary rule.

The White House announced Thursday night that Preston Rutledge, senior tax and benefits counsel on the Senate Finance Committee, had been nominated to be an assistant secretary of Labor and head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Rutledge would serve in the same role that Phyllis Borzi, known as the "mother of the fiduciary rule," held in the Obama administration when the regulation was finalized. The EBSA is responsible for administering and enforcing the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the federal law that regulates retirement benefits.

As EBSA director, Mr. Rutledge would be influential in shaping the agency's review of the fiduciary rule, which would require brokers to act in the best interests of their clients in retirement accounts and partially went into effect in June. The re-assessment of the rule's enforcement mechanisms, order by President Donald J. Trump, could lead to revisions. The agency is seeking to delay the remainder of the rule for 18 months during the review.

Mr. Rutledge has served on the Senate panel since 2011. Before that, he was a senior tax law specialist at the Internal Revenue Service. Congressional aides generally work behind the scenes, and his own views on fiduciary duty aren't clear.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Mr. Rutledge helped bring Republicans and Democrats together on policies before the panel.

"He's put forward innovative ideas to effectively tackle our nation's pension issues and worked to update the tax code to help ensure more Americans are financially equipped to pay for their health care or save for retirement," Mr. Hatch said in a statement. "Even more, Preston understands the importance of working across [the] aisle to advance policies."

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