Described below are brief descriptions of the Council's outstanding legislative and regulatory priorities relating to health, retirement and paid programs. We urge policymakers to carefully consider and promptly address these matters. The current situation is extremely dynamic and the Council is continually working to identify and consider additional policy recommendations.
With congressional lawmakers and the White House deep in negotiations over major pandemic relief and recovery legislation, the American Benefits Council continues to emphasize the importance of supporting employer-provided benefit plans. In an August 4 letter to Congress, the Council outlined the most urgent priorities for employer plan sponsors that could yet be included in a final package.
On behalf of the American Benefits Council ("the Council"), we are submitting this comment with respect to the above-referenced proposed regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This proposal would make changes to the DOL's 1979 regulation which explains how a fiduciary will satisfy his or her obligations under ERISA Section 404(a)(1)(B) with regard to an investment or an investment course of action. The proposal would also place new requirements on the use of environmental, social and corporate governance ("ESG") factors in investment decisions and on the use of ESG funds in participant-directed defined contribution plans.
A group of 18 chief executive officers from diverse industries signed a letter to congressional leadership on July 21 requesting passage of the pension funding reform provisions included in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800).
The American Benefits Council, joined by six other employer and purchaser organizations, urge Congress to take measures to ensue that neither the government nor the private sector is subjected to unjustified charges related to testing.
On June 20, the American Benefits Council submitted comments with respect to a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding prohibited transactions involving (1) the pooled employer plans ("PEPs") and (2) other multiple employer plans ("MEPs"). Our comment relates to PEPs, other MEPs, and single-employer plans.
The Council recently engaged Public Opinion Strategies, a renowned public research firm, to conduct a national online survey of 1,000 registered voters to assess their attitudes about past and future pandemic relief legislation, particularly as it relates to health care coverage. A July 13 summary memo describes the survey's key findings.
The American Benefits Council is enlisting the help of the U.S. Department of Labor to curb the recent wave of ERISA lawsuits against employer-sponsored retirement plans. In a July 7 letter, the Council encouraged DOL Secretary Eugene Scalia and Solicitor of Labor Kate S. O'Scannlain to urge courts to uphold federal pleading standards for these class actions.
On June 25, the Department of Labor (DOL) released proposed amendments to DOL's "investment duties" regulation. Under the amendments, ERISA plan fiduciaries are required to select investments and investment courses of action based solely on financial considerations and not on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations (unless the ESG considerations may appropriately be considered pecuniary in nature).