A dolittle Congress has made it a little easier to follow the dizzying array of laws, rules and regulations impacting financial advisors in recent years.

The partisan gridlock in Washington has moved the center of action for advisors from lawmakers to regulators in the executive branch, said Neil Simon, vice president of government relations for the Investment Adviser Association (IAA) last week at TD Ameritrade’s National LINC conference in Orlando, Fla.

“As you know, Congress hasn’t been doing a whole lot,” said Simon. “If I started the session talking about the major accomplishments, there’s just one I will be talking about later, but otherwise we would go straight to questions and answers. There’s not much to discuss besides what is called the SECURE Act.”

Congress is being slowed down not just by what Simon deemed a “hyperpartisan” environment, but also by the Senate Banking Committee.

“There’s a saying that the Senate is where House bills (and perhaps impeachment) go to die,” said Simon. “The House Banking Committee has been passing legislation, bills are coming out and a lot of those bills have passed the House, but nothing is happening in the Senate.”

The intransigence of the Senate Banking Committee could have an impact on the regulation coming from federal agencies. In the coming weeks, a vacancy at the Securities and Exchange Commission will open when Commissioner Robert Jackson, an independent occupying a Democratic seat, steps down to return to a tenured position at the NYU School of Law.

When that happens, the committee might not be in any hurry to fill Jackson’s vacancy with another Democrat, said Simon.

“How likely is it that the White House is going to move rapidly in nominating another Democrat to the SEC? They’ll get it done, but not on a fast mode,” said Simon. “Even if they do, how likely is it that the Banking Committee will take up the nomination?”

The SECURE Act is a piece of retirement savings legislation that actually made it through Congress, said Simon, but not by direct means.

Though the House of Representatives passed the measure in May 2019, the Senate Banking Committee failed to pass it, said Simon, which meant the reforms languished until late last year, when they were included as part of a massive bipartisan spending package that kept the government open.

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