The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today approved a Democratic pension package by an 11-10 vote, along partisan lines. The package, sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., also includes amendments by Sens. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Mr. Wellstones amendment protects whistleblowers who are not plan participants from retribution; Mr. Harkins addition requires employers to give participants detailed comparisons between lump sums and annuities, or monthly pensions for life, based on their actuarial values.
Mr. Kennedy will confer with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., on possibly melding the package with the pension package being crafted by the Senate tax-writing committee.
The Republican pension counsel for the Senate pensions committee, who didnt want to be identified, warned that the legislation is on a fast track to nowhere. "This bill is fundamentally bad, he said. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., the ranking member of the Senate pensions committee, said he prefers to work with the Senate Finance Committee in creating a compromise proposal that will have bipartisan support, he said.