Bipartisan legislation to increase savings in workplace retirement accounts and IRAs was introduced Wednesday in the Senate by Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Ben Cardin, D-Md.
The proposed Retirement Security and Savings Act includes more than 50 provisions aimed at improving coverage with small employers and among part-time workers. It would also reduce barriers to lifetime income options and allow employees to keep retirement savings in qualified plans beyond the current age limit of 70 1/2.
The bill establishes a new automatic enrollment safe harbor for employers to meet non-discrimination requirements and allows employers to make matching contributions to retirement accounts of employees paying off qualified student-loan debt. Retirement plans could include part-time employees working 500 to 1,000 hours a year.
In a joint statement, the senators said they will continue working on the legislation, which they see as a foundation for a broader bipartisan, bicameral retirement policy debate in the next Congress.
"Over the last two decades, we've made progress in helping Americans save more for their retirement, but we need to do more," Mr. Portman said in the statement. While U.S. retirement savings have increased to $28.3 trillion from $11.3 trillion in 2001, the savings rate is still low, "and there are far too many Americans without any retirement nest egg at all," he said.
For his part, Mr. Cardin said, "Congress needs to work continually with participants, retirees, and other stakeholders to make sure that retirement security is achievable, especially as our economy changes."
The legislation would "significantly improve retirement security for all Americans," State Street Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Ron O'Hanley said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced legislation that would allow employers to make matching contributions to a 401(k) plan while employees make student loan repayments. The Wyden bill "is in preparation for next year when it is expected that broader conversations on how to improve retirement policies will be debated in the 116th Congress," his office said.