In recognition that the use of the SEC and the federal securities laws to pursue social goals is a futile strategy, acting SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar directed the SEC to "reconsider" the controversial conflict minerals disclosure rule which, in effort to address the humanitarian crisis in the Congo, requires public companies to disclose whether products contain certain "conflict minerals" like gold and tin, which are exploited by armed groups in the Congo. Companies have been forced to partially comply with the Conflict Minerals disclosure, which was partially but not fully invalidated by the D.C. Court of Appeals as unconstitutional in 2014. The disclosures themselves have been subject to much criticism with companies and even regulators admitting they are impossible to properly complete as mandated. In his statement announcing the reconsideration of the rule, Mr. Piwowar noted that the rule has not "eased the human suffering" in the Congo while the rule itself has imposed a number of unintended consequences which negatively impacted the area, such as forcing the closing of legitimate mining operations. Mr. Piwowar asked the SEC staff to consider "whether the 2014 guidance is still appropriate and whether any additional relief is appropriate in the interim" and invited public comment on any potential paths for the SEC to take for the next 45 days.
In Congress, another socially-oriented rule, the SEC Resource Extraction Payment rule was subject to a Congressional Review Act resolution and passed the House of Representatives by a 235 - 187 majority and the Senate on a 52-47 party-line vote, and President Trump is expected to sign it, resulting in the rule being permanently repealed and preventing any similar rule from being written. The rule would have required companies to provide new disclosures in annual reports for fiscal years ending after Sept. 30, 2018, requires that oil and gas companies file public reports disclosing payments exceeding $100,000 made to the U.S. or foreign governments connected to extraction of oil, natural gas, or minerals. The SEC's final rule, which was published in 2016, was actually the second attempt at the SEC to finalize the rule with the first having been invalidated by a D.C. federal judge in 2013 for want of an adequate cost-benefit analysis. Rep. Bill Huizenga, who has sponsored the pay ratio repeal bills in back-to-back Congresses, sponsored the Resource Extraction CRA noting that it comes from the part of Dodd-Frank that "used [the] financial crisis to hijack federal securities law in order to push a socially motivated agenda."