Obama regs chief probed for info on financial adviser rule

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) probed President Obama's regulatory chief for information on the Department of Labor’s controversial financial adviser rule on Tuesday.

At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, Carter wanted to know why the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has not required the DOL to look for less burdensome options in place of the “fiduciary rule.”

 “If fact, the Department of Labor openly refused to do that, openly refused to analyze any other options,” he told OIRA Administrator Howard Shelanski. “Don’t you see that as being a direct conflict to what your core mission of OIRA is?”

Shelanski explained that OIRA’s review of the fiduciary rule is not yet complete.

“I can assure you that all of the input, all of public comments, all of the relevant issues are being seriously considered during that review,” he said.

Business and financial industry groups have widely opposed the rule, which would require investment advisers to act solely to the benefit of their clients. The administration claims the rule is necessary to protect consumers from being steered toward bad investments that carry commissions.

Carter pressed Shelanski at Tuesday’s hearing on whether the administration has ordered OIRA to approve the fiduciary rule. 

“Both the White House policy offices and the Department of Labor are absolutely aware that we must be left independently to review this rule,” Shelanski said. “I have received no order about any specific outcome of our review process.”

Carter also questioned why OIRA has rejected most of the 26 concerns the Securities and Exchange Commission has raised over the rule. 

"We have the rule under the review," Shelanski said. "All concerns are being considered." 

"Even the 26 concerns by the SEC?" Carter asked. 

"All of the substantial interagency concerns are dealt with during the review process," Shelanski said.