Senate Confirms Preston Rutledge to Lead Employee Benefits Security Administration

EBSA's agenda includes revisiting the DOL's fiduciary rule and revising ACA regulations

January 3, 2018
Senate Confirms Preston Rutledge to Lead Employee Benefits Security Administration

​Preston Rutledge

A top aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is the new assistant secretary of labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Preston Rutledge to the post. Rutledge was the Republican majority's senior tax and benefits counsel on the Senate Finance Committee and a top aide to Hatch, the committee's chairman. Earlier, Rutledge served as a senior tax law specialist on the headquarters staff of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the Internal Revenue Service, and as a senior technical reviewer in the Qualified Pension Plans Branch of the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.

EBSA functions as the Department of Labor's (DOL's) regulatory arm for setting and ensuring compliance with policies governing tax-qualified employee benefit plans. EBSA drafted the DOL's fiduciary rule, as well as the regulations implementing the group benefits plan provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

Rutledge succeeds Phyllis Borzi, who lead EBSA during the Obama administration. 

New EBSA Leader Takes Up GOP's Agenda

It will take some time for Rutledge to make an impact in the DOL and within EBSA, but his longstanding ties to the government and particularly to Hatch—a legislator known for being active on retirement and labor issues—have many in the retirement benefits industry looking cautiously forward to his tenure. Perhaps most importantly, Rutledge will now begin to play a lead role in determining what the Trump administration will ultimately do with the Obama-administration's expansion of the fiduciary rule.

Rutledge Praised by Industry Groups

"Mr. Rutledge will have the important job of protecting hard-working Americans who participate in employee pension and welfare benefit plans, and I look forward to working with him," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Supporters and detractors alike note Rutledge is very familiar with the responsibilities of the role, and industry advocacy groups praised the nomination and confirmation.
(The 401(k) Specialist blog

[SHRM members-only platform: SHRM Connect] 

Overseeing Group Benefit Regulations

As the head of EBSA, Rutledge will oversee a DOL division that shapes and administers group benefits regulation. EBSA has also been working on an overhaul of group disability plan claim administration standards, and recently announced a short delay in efforts to implement the group disability standards.

Secretary of Labor Acosta Touts 'Common-Sense Regulatory Agenda'

The DOL's priority is to create jobs, according to Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta—to whom Rutledge will report. Under President Donald Trump's executive order on reducing regulations, Acosta said the department can focus on freeing up money and creating efficiencies to "unleash jobs. "It is important that DOL looks at rules that impact economics and government impingement on liberty, he said.
(SHRM Online)


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