Multiemployer pension reform will not happen this year, Senate Republicans involved in negotiations said.
In a joint statement, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said late Monday that time ran out for having it included in end-of-year legislation before the 116th Congress adjourns.
"While each side has agreed to make significant changes, we have yet to find an agreement that satisfies our respective principles and objectives for resolving this situation," the senators said, adding that they remain committed to finding a solution "and will continue looking for a balanced, sensible approach to resolve this increasingly critical problem."
Negotiations that they described as intense and in good faith with Democratic colleagues in the Senate and House over the past two weeks did not succeed, as both parties tried to strike a balance over saving both the retirement benefits of an estimated 1.5 million retirees and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s multiemployer program while also reforming the multiemployer pension system "instead of relying on taxpayers to bail out a private-sector system in perpetuity," the senators said in their statement.
Supporters expressed disappointment.
“We are terribly disappointed that Congress did not come to agreement on a multiemployer solution before the end of the session,” Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director for the Pension Rights Center in Washington, said in an email.
“Retirees have been fighting for six years to save their pensions and unless a solution is implemented soon the multiemployer system, and the PBGC, will collapse. PRC and grassroots activists and our allies will redouble our efforts to get comprehensive legislation passed in 2021,” Ms. Friedman said. “Both Democrats and Republicans must make this a top priority. Enough is enough.”