The Republican takeover of the House combined with the narrow retention by Democrats of their Senate majority in Tuesday’s election means that executive branch agencies will be taking the lead on pension issues over the next two years, pension industry lobbyists said.
The new division of power on Capitol Hill also means legislative gridlock, the lobbyists said.
“The action will continue to shift to the executive branch,” said Ed Ferrigno, vice president of Washington affairs for the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America. “What it means is there’s a strong likelihood that nothing will come out of Congress in the pension world.”
“Not much will happen on the legislative front in terms of retirement issues,” added Judy Schub, managing director of the Committee on Investment of Employee Benefit Assets.
The GOP House majority also suggests that it could be harder for defined benefit plans to win additional relief from funding obligations, lobbyists said.
“Traditionally, Republicans have been less sympathetic on defined benefit funding issues,” said Aliya Wong, executive director of retirement policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “However, we’re hopeful they will see the connection between funding issues and business prosperity.”
As of Wednesday morning, Republicans appeared to have won up to 240 of the House’s 435 seats, while Democrats retained 51 of the Senate’s 100 seats.
The House takeover means Republicans will displace Democrats in leadership posts. Widely expected to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.
In line to replace Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., as chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee is Rep. John Kline, R-Minn. The possible successor to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.