The House this week will vote on the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10), a bill that would roll back a number of job-killing, anti-investment provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act. During the legislative consideration of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2009 and 2010, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) repeatedly urged Congress to focus its efforts on strengthening the U.S. financial system. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, and we are pleased that the House is revisiting a number of these ill-conceived provisions.
The bill would repeal the so-called “pay ratio” rule, which requires companies to regularly disclose the ratio of employees’ median pay to the compensation of the company’s chief executive. Despite the absence of a clear benefit, this rule would require thousands of manufacturers in the United States to incur significant financial cost, dedicate substantial man-hour resources and overcome numerous administrative challenges to comply with the rule.
The CHOICE Act also raises the threshold so that only shareholders who hold at least 1 percent of the company’s stock for three years can submit a proposal on a company’s ballot and excludes a shareholder proposal if a similar proposal appeared on the ballot and was defeated within the past five years.
It also brings transparency to proxy advisory firms by requiring them to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and adopt conflict-of-interest policies. Proxy advisory firms are third-party groups that provide proxy voting advice for investors. Two firms—Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc. and Glass, Lewis & Co.—control 97 percent of the proxy advisory market and wield tremendous power in shaping corporate governance, yet they are virtually unregulated entities.
Finally, H.R. 10 would repeal a Dodd-Frank provision that requires companies publicly traded in the United States to disclose annually to the SEC any use of conflict minerals in their supply chains, including minerals originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its adjoining countries.
While the NAM supports addressing the atrocities occurring in the DRC, it has underscored that the conflict minerals disclosure requirements pose costly, burdensome and impracticable financial and reporting burdens, and potentially a substantial auditing burden, on NAM members of all sizes—and in all sectors of the manufacturing economy. The NAM strongly supports the repeal of the conflict minerals disclosure requirement in the CHOICE Act.
Manufacturers struggle under an enormous regulatory burden. Indeed, an NAM report released earlier this year found that manufacturers in the United States face 297,696 federal regulations. The NAM supports efforts to reduce this regulatory burden and make businesses in the United States more competitive in the global marketplace and free up additional resources for investment and job creation. Passing the CHOICE Act will help bring us closer to our goal.