Trump to sign executive actions targeting Obama financial regulations

President Trump will sign an executive order that could effectively kill a contentious investment adviser rule that had been a top priority of President Obama.

The president is expected to sign a pair of executive orders targeting rules imposed on the financial sector Friday, according to senior White House officials. And one of those orders takes square aim at the “fiduciary duty” rule written by the Labor Department, finalized after years of effort in June.

That rule establishes significantly stricter standards on investment advisers for retirement plans and had been fiercely opposed by the financial industry.

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The second order will direct financial regulators, under the guidance of the Treasury Department, to review regulations from the Dodd-Frank financial reform law for potential revisions or outright removal.

The text of the orders was not provided to reporters in advance of the president’s signing. President Trump is scheduled to sign executive orders at noon Friday.

Under the first expected executive order, Trump will direct the Labor Department to halt implementation of the “fiduciary duty” rule and completely re-review the project. The rule was set to take effect on April 10, but given Trump’s harsh criticism of financial rules, it would face long odds of being resurrected in anything resembling its current form — White House officials described the regulatory project as a “complete miss.”

One of Trump’s closest advisers, Anthony Scaramucci, went so far as to equate the regulation with the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision of 1857, in which the Supreme Court ruled that descendants of slaves could not become citizens. 

Trump’s move is sure to set off fury among liberals who fought long and hard to get the rule in place and argue that it is critical to ensure people are not being steered to ineffective investments that reap hefty commissions for investment advisers.

Under the rule, advisers would have to act solely for the benefit of their clients. But industry critics argue it would be costly and burdensome to implement.

The rule had been stalled for years under Obama until the president personally threw himself behind the project in 2015. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Liberals will ‘lead the Democratic Party back from the wilderness’ Warren asks where bank CEOs stand on customers' ability to join class action suits Labor Department seeks delay of Obama investment adviser rule MORE (D-Mass.) has been a vocal proponent, and the rule was shepherded through by then-Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who is now running to head the Democratic National Committee.

Trump’s pick to lead the Labor Department, Andrew Puzder, has seen his confirmation hearing delayed several times in the Senate after opposition from Democrats and is still awaiting consideration.

The second order Trump is expected to sign will direct regulators to comprehensively review rules put in place under Dodd-Frank, another signature Obama achievement. White House officials said the initiative is not an attempt to “undo” the Wall Street reform law, but rather intended to “fix” some “overarching issues.”

Officials said one specific area that will be reviewed is the “Volcker Rule,” a provision of Dodd-Frank that barred banks from making trades for their own profit rather than account holders.

However, the order will not result in any direct changes to the current regulatory framework, and its impact could be limited. For one, the vast majority of post-crisis rulemakings were directed by the Dodd-Frank law and could only be removed by another statute from Congress.

Furthermore, most of the regulators charged with implementing those laws are independent and do not answer directly to the president. President Trump has already named new heads of some of those agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other key personnel are expected to be named soon.

But in two key regulatory posts — the Federal Reserve and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — Obama appointees have made clear they intend to serve out their terms into 2018. 

Jordan Fabian contributed to this report.