Government Affairs Update

December 6, 2021


IRI’s Chopus Named a Top Lobbyist

IRI President and CEO Wayne Chopus was named in The Hill’s Top Lobbyists 2021, the publication’s annual list of top advocates from corporations, associations, and public affairs and lobbying firms. The article accompanying the list notes “Not all of those honored on this list are registered lobbyists. But they are all key players who the nation’s biggest companies, advocacy groups, labor unions and trade associations turn to when they want their voices heard in the nation’s capital. The ranks of policy experts, influencers and advocates run deep in Washington, but these are the people who stand out for delivering results for their clients in the halls of Congress and the administration.”


IRI Presents Champion Awards to Senators Cardin and Portman

On December 1, IRI presented the 2021 Champion of Retirement Security Award to Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in recognition of their leadership and efforts to enhance retirement security. In a press statement, IRI President and CEO Wayne Chopus said, “We are honored to present Senator Ben Cardin and Senator Rob Portman with IRI’s 2021 Champion of Retirement Security Award. Both senators are receiving this award for the second time, a testament to their long-standing commitment, advocacy, and leadership to advance policies that address the retirement anxiety felt by millions of America’s workers and retirees.” The Senators have a history of collaborating to produce bipartisan retirement security legislation, including the introduction of the Retirement Security and Savings Act earlier this year.

Sen. Cardin, who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said “it is an honor to receive the 2021 Champion of Retirement Security Award. I have spent my career working with Senator Portman to improve the retirement security system in this country. We can and must do more to ensure all Americans have access to the tools they need to live a dignified life in retirement. I want to thank the IRI leadership and team for presenting this award and for helping to advocate for my legislation with Senator Portman, the Retirement Security and Savings Act.”

In a statement Sen. Portman, who also serves on the Senate Finance Committee, said, “I am pleased to accept IRI’s 2021 Champion of Retirement Security Award and appreciate their recognition of the work Senator Cardin and I continue to do in the retirement security space. During my time in Congress, I have made strengthening America’s retirement system a top priority. Earlier this year, I again introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Cardin, which includes much-needed reforms to help Americans save more for retirement by allowing people who have saved too little to set more aside for their retirement, helping small businesses offer 401(k)s and other retirement plans, expanding access to retirement savings plans for low-income Americans without coverage, and providing more certainty and flexibility during Americans’ retirement years. We are working to advance this legislation early next year, and I urge my colleagues to join this effort so we can strengthen the retirement security of all Americans.”

Following the presentation of the awards, a panel of industry experts moderated by Dagmar Nikles, Head of DC Plan Strategy & Tools at BlackRock that featured IRI Board members Sri Reddy, Senior Vice President, Principal Financial Group and Tim Walsh, Senior Managing Director, TIAA was held. The panel focused on the impact the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act) has had on the defined contribution plan market. The panelists shared their insights and expectations about how they think the proposals included in the House and Senate versions of the “SECURE 2.0” legislative packages can further strengthen retirement security for workers and retirees in light of the findings of IRI’s recent Retirement Readiness Among Older Workers report. If you missed the awards presentation and the panel discussion, you could watch it by clicking here


EBSA Head Nomination Clears Committee

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved the nomination of Lisa Gomez to be Assistant Secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) at the Department of Labor (DOL) during a hearing last week. The nomination now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

During her confirmation hearing, Gomez was asked about DOL’s plan to publish a rulemaking later this year to extend the high legal bar of fiduciary prudence to advisers recommending rollovers into individual retirement accounts or post-plan annuities by Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL). In response, the nominee said “[Best Interest] should be the cornerstone of being a fiduciary. But, determining exactly who is a fiduciary in different contexts has been the source of some disagreement, and it’s been a long road to get there. And I look forward, if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, to working with the SEC as well as with the department to be briefed on the efforts of looking at the definition of fiduciary in different contexts and taking another look at the conflict-of-interest rule and how it would apply in different situations.”

IRI will monitor the Senate for a vote on Gomez’s nomination and will provide an update when appropriate.

Any questions should be referred to John Jennings.


House Financial Services Announces December Hearing Schedule

The House Committee on Financial Services announced its December hearing schedule last week.

  • December 8 at 10:00 AM ET: The full Committee will convene for a hybrid hearing entitled, “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States.”
  • December 9 at 11:00 AM ET: The Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion will convene for a hybrid hearing entitled, “A Review of Diversity and Inclusion Performance at America’s Large Investment Firms.”

An additional hearing schedule for the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations focusing on the delivery of disaster benefits has been postponed.

Hearings conducted by the Committee can be viewed here. IRI will monitor the House Financial Services Committee and provide updates as necessary.

Any questions should be referred to John Jennings.


Senate Aging to Explore Financial Literacy

On December 9 at 9:30 AM ET, the Senate Special Committee on Aging is scheduled to hold a hearing entitled “Financial Literacy: Addressing the Unique Just-in-Time Decisions Older Americans and People with Disabilities Face.” Presenting testimony to the committee is:

  • Gerri Walsh, Senior Vice President of Investor Education, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
  • Cindy Hounsell, President and Founder, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement
  • Dorothea Bernique, Founder and Executive Director, Increasing H.O.P.E
  • Patti Szarowicz, Aging & Disability Resource Counselor, Atlanta Regional Commission, Area Agency on Aging

IRI will monitor the hearing and provide an update as necessary.

Any questions should be referred to John Jennings.



Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Stepping Down

Mark Afable is stepping down as Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner this month. Afable was appointed by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers in January 2019. Deputy Insurance Commissioner Nathan Houdek will serve as interim commissioner following Afable’s departure.

Any questions should be referred to Sarah Wood.