The House of Representatives passed a streamlined spending bill Thursday by a 326-96 vote that left behind several expected retirement-related measures, including one that would help the severely underfunded $4.4 billion United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan, Washington.
A Senate vote on the spending bill is being held up by some senators over the mine workers' pension funding, but is expected to be held Friday.
The spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, keeps the federal government funded until April 28, 2017, and replaces one that expires Friday at midnight. It includes only a four-month extension of health benefits for the mine workers.
“This so-called 'fix' designed in secret by congressional Republican leadership is nothing more than a profound betrayal of coal miners and their families in Pennsylvania and across the nation,” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a statement.
Supporters of a package of retirement savings reforms passed by the Senate Finance Committee in September had also hoped the measures would be part of the spending bill. Among other things, it would have allowed employers to access open multiple employer plans, make it easier for them to offer annuities, expand access to 401(k) plans to some part-time workers, and offer startup and automatic-enrollment tax credits for small businesses.
Opponents of a second round of reforms for multiemployer pension plans were relieved that those did not make it into the spending bill.