Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

Florida Rep. Donalds introduces Financial Freedom Act companion bill in the House

By Mahesh Limbani May 21, 2022

Rep. Byron Donalds, a Florida Republican, introduced the Financial Freedom Act into the United States House of Representatives on Friday to prevent the U.S. Department of Labor from limiting the types of investments that can be included in Americans’ self-directed 401(k) retirement plans. The bill is the companion to Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s May 5 Senate bill.

The Financial Freedom Act was introduced as a reaction to a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) compliance report dated March 10 that raised objections to the inclusion of cryptocurrencies in 401(k) retirement plans. That report warned the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration “expects to conduct an investigative program aimed at plans that offer participant investments in cryptocurrencies and related products, and to take appropriate action to protect the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries with respect to these investments.”

The DOL report elicited a response from financial services giant Fidelity Investments objecting to what it saw as unclear language and positions that strayed from the intent of the law that created the 401(k) program. It requested the DOL clarify the report or withdraw it. Two weeks later, Fidelity joined a number of smaller financial services firms in offering Bitcoin to 401(k) plan holders.

Related: Sen. Warren asks Fidelity to address the risks to put Bitcoin in 401(k)s

Tuberville replied in an editorial on CNBC before the introduction of his bill, “Whether or not you believe in the long-term economic prospects of cryptocurrency, the choice of what you invest your retirement savings in should be yours — not that of the government.”

In a tweeted press release announcing his bill’s introduction, Donalds stated that the DOL was restricting investors’ choices for their retirement accounts, and characterized the Biden administration as mounting “a far-reaching and sweeping endeavor to centralize power in Washington” through the DOL report.