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Washington

Special pension committee formed in Congress to come up with multiemployer bill

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Congress will vote later this year on legislation to help struggling multiemployer pension funds, once a new select committee announced Wednesday comes up with a plan.

The creation of the bipartisan House and Senate Joint Select Committee on multiemployer pensions was announced by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who during the Senate budget deal reached Wednesday, also secured a guarantee that whatever the select pension committee comes up with will get an expedited vote on both the House and Senate floors.

The committee will have to hold at least five public meetings, including at least one field hearing so committee members can hear directly from affected retirees, workers and businesses. The 12 members will be appointed by House and Senate leaders and made up equally of Democrats and Republicans.

The committee's assignment is to produce a bill to solve the pension crisis by the final week of November, Mr. Brown said in a statement. If at least four members from each party agree on a compromise, that solution will be guaranteed the expedited votes in the House and Senate, with no amendments.

Mr. Brown is a lead sponsor of the Butch Lewis Act, legislation that would create a new federal loan program available to struggling multiemployer pension funds. The new committee will consider that and other proposals. "While it is not the immediate solution we hoped for, this committee will force Congress to finally treat the pension crisis with the seriousness and urgency American workers deserve," Mr. Brown said in a statement.