Congress, Labor Close Ranks on Fee Disclosure

July 15, 2010 ( – Despite rumblings about potential tension between regulators and legislators on fee disclosure rules, there was a visible attempt to close ranks today.


In announcing the new interim final rule (seeDoL Issues New Rules on Fee Disclosure), Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis credited the “considerable work on the part of House of Representatives and Senate legislators to improve the current disclosure system.” 

In fact, she went on to say that “the steps we are announcing today would not have been possible without the leadership and vision of House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin.  By highlighting the negative consequences that undisclosed fees can have for workers’ retirement security, they made possible the type of dialogue between policymakers and the regulated community that has allowed for the development of meaningful regulatory standards on such a complex issue.”

For his part, Congressman George Miller (D-California), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and author of 401(k) fee disclosure legislation (see Miller 401(k) Fee Disclosure-Advice Bill Heads for House Floor), said “I am pleased that the Department of Labor has taken this important step to ensure that employers have information on the fees and conflicts of interest contained in the 401(k) plans they sponsor”.  He also said that he “will continue to support the department’s efforts on fee disclosure through regulation and continue to fight for my legislation that would codify these consumer protections into law for all 401(k)-style plans.”

Miller has long championed legislation calling for greater 401(k) fee disclosure – legislation that was incorporated in The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act passed by the House, before those provisions were stripped in the final Senate version (see Fee Disclosure Rides Along with Pension Relief, Fee Disclosure Not in Senate Tax Extenders Bill).  

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, who has also championed 401(k) fee disclosure legislation (see DC Plan Fee Disclosure Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate), said “I commend the Department of Labor for its efforts to shed light on excessive 401(k) fees.  As more and more people rely on their 401(k) plans for retirement, it is crucial that workers have all the information they need to make sound investment decisions.  Employees should be told everything about what they pay in fees upfront and in clear terms.”  He also said “I look forward to working with the Department on efforts to further improve transparency and help workers make wise choices about their retirement plans.”