DOL Urged to Pursue Equal Opportunity Cases in Biden Budget Proposal

The White House’s proposed fiscal 2024 budget would also increase budgets for the Social Security Administration and the IRS.

The White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2024 includes some spending recommendations that could affect retirement plans and their sponsors.

The proposal includes a $1.5 billion increase for the Department of Labor, bringing the department’s total budget to $15.1 billion. The primary reason for the increase, according to the proposal, is to enforce workers’ rights. President Joe Biden’s budget specifically advocates for higher fines and more aggressive enforcement actions, especially as it relates to equal opportunity and employer retaliation.

“To ensure employers treat workers with dignity and respect, the budget invests $2.3 billion—an increase of $430 million over the 2023 enacted level—in the department’s worker protection agencies,” according to information released by the Department of Labor.

Curiously, the rule-making agenda related to the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 is not mentioned in the spending plan. EBSA Secretary Lisa Gomez laid out EBSA’s regulatory agenda in February, including multiple items related to SECURE 2.0, such as employee stock ownership plans, auto-portability, the qualified personal asset manager exemption and disclosure requirements.

The budget would provide the Social Security Administration an additional $1.4 billion for its administrative budget, up to a total of $15.5 billion. This money intended primarily to enable it to provide better customer service and faster processing of applications and Medicare-related paperwork.

The proposal also says it would extend the solvency of Medicare by directing revenue from a proposed Net Investment Income Tax, currently at 3.8%, to the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund. The proposal would also direct savings from drug pricing reforms into the same fund.

The Internal Revenue Service would receive an additional $1.8 billion to reach a total of $14.1 billion, which does not include the $79.4 billion the IRS received through 2031 via the Inflation Reduction Act to pursue tax evaders. The proposed $1.8 billion increase is primarily intended to improve customer service functions, the administration said.

The budget proposal does not reference the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is funded by its own collections, despite the agency’s busy agenda, especially as it relates to emissions disclosure requirements.