A committee in the U.S. House of Representatives will likely convene hearings next week to explore ways to protect the retirement portfolios of U.S. workers in the wake Enrons collapse.
Employees of the Texas-based energy trading company had weighted the retirement plans heavily with Enron stock and lost millions when the company imploded late last year.
The House Education & the Workforce Committee is expected to convene the hearings on the issue Feb. 6 and 7, according to a statement sent by an aid.
"If Enrons employees were victims of criminal wrongdoing or neglect, were going to find out. Investigations by the Bush administration, our committee and other congressional committees will see to that," the committees chairman, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement.
Boehner is using the Enron issue to promote a bill he wrote last year that would allow fund companies to provide investment advice to 401(k) investors. The bill, known as Retirement Security Advice Act, or H.R. 2269, passed the House in November by a vote of 280-144.
In a speech last night following President Bushs State of the Union address, Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) called for a bill that "protects employees from the next Enron."
This morning, Boehner released a statement challenging Gephardt to back his advice bill and garner Democratic support for it in the Senate. "We hope that the minority leaders concern for Enrons employees will be the basis for further bipartisan action on H.R. 2269 this year, Boehner said.
The bill has been opposed by some legislators and investment advice providers in the private sector who say it would pose a conflict of interest for fund companies who could steer investors toward products that yield higher fees.