Tight midterm election races and a potential power shift in the House of Representatives are raising hopes that retirement-related bills could be passed by early 2019.
"It seems like there has been a flurry of retirement activity lately," said Christopher Spence, senior director of federal government relations for TIAA- CREF in Washington.
The odds of Democrats gaining control over the House are considered higher than those for the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 majority.
Even if leadership of House committees like Ways and Means and Education and the Workforce does change hands, members of both parties "are still going to be champions of retirement," said Paul Richman, vice president of government relations for the Insured Retirement Institute in Washington. "Retirement issues have always been bipartisan issues. Regardless of the outcome of the election, I think it will still get attention."
Much of that sense of continuity comes from the fact that the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, D-Mass., has a long record of promoting ways to increase retirement savings, including several proposals introduced earlier this year.
"Neal has always been a strong champion of retirement security issues. I don't think that's going to change, and it may move higher up on the agenda," Mr. Richman said. His members have been encouraged by more attention paid this session of Congress to lifetime income options.
Mr. Neal is expected to become chairman of the committee if Democrats take over the House.
"Congressman Neal has proposed a lot of legislation to help Americans save for retirement. He's been a fan of employer-based retirement and he understands our issues," said Geoffrey Manville, principal, government relations at Mercer LLC in Washington. "Whatever the election outcome, I think there will be a bipartisan bicameral push to get something done during the lame-duck (session)," Mr. Manville said. He is also encouraged that Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have floated a discussion draft of possible legislative ideas to introduce next year, including letting plan sponsors contribute to 401(k) plans while employees pay down student debt. "I think its notable that they've put down this marker. They're actively soliciting ideas from the retirement policy community," Mr. Manville said.