House lawmakers today passed, by a 336-69 vote, a pension bill that could save corporations from contributing an additional $80 billion to their pension plans over the next two years. The legislation allows companies to use a corporate bond rate as the pension liability benchmark for the next two years and would provide catch-up contribution relief to financially strapped airlines and steel companies.
"That's a big vote. That's the majority of the Democrats," said Randolf H. Hardock, a partner in the Washington law firm of Davis & Harman who represents large corporations. Mr. Hardock added that he is optimistic about passage of the bill in the Senate.
But a spokesman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said he is "strongly opposed to it and intends to do everything he can to defeat it on the Senate floor."