The Bingaman bill takes a different approach to making retirement advice more available to employees. It would provide "safe harbor" to plan sponsors that are concerned about being held liable for bad investment advice, a key reason why they don't offer such advice now. Supporters, such as the AARP, say the bill is a better option than that passed by the House because it includes measures that prevent conflicts of interest or self-dealing. The AARP worked with Bingaman to craft that bill, said David Certner, the organization's director of economic issues, mostly because, like Invesmart, which has lobbied against the Bingaman bill, is concerned about the possibility of conflicts of interest.

"We have a concern with making changes to one of the fundamental principals of ERISA," Certner said. "People at risk of self dealing should not be providing advice."

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