The letter was signed by a variety of organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Council of Life Insurers, the ERISA Industry Committee, Principal Financial Group and Mercer.
The SECURE Act features wide-ranging provisions, including ones that make it easier for smaller employers to join open multiple employer plans, ease non-discrimination rules for frozen defined benefit plans and add a safe harbor for selecting lifetime income providers in defined contribution plans. It also increases the automatic-enrollment safe harbor cap to 15% from 10%.
Shortly after the House passed the SECURE Act in May, Senate leaders fast-tracked the bill in an attempt to move it via unanimous consent. However, three Republican senators — Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — each put holds on the bill, blocking its passage via unanimous consent, sources have said.
It has not been given any floor time in the Senate, nor has it been attached to any larger bill. There is hope in the retirement community that the SECURE Act will be attached to a piece of must-pass legislation, like a spending bill. Congress has a Nov. 21 deadline to pass the next spending bill and avert a government shutdown, though it's unclear if the SECURE Act or any other small bills will be attached.
"While we wait for passage of the SECURE Act, low- and middle-income Americans struggle to save for retirement and military survivors face significant tax repercussions," the letter stated. "If the SECURE Act is not signed into law, more than 700,000 small business workers will not save for retirement at work, more than 4 million workers in private-sector pension plans will be at risk of losing future benefits, 1,400 religiously affiliated organizations will be at risk of losing access to their defined contribution retirement plans, and more than 18,000 children and spouses of fallen service members will continue to be economically disadvantaged by unfair taxation on their survivor benefits."
The last point references changes to the 2017 tax law that inadvertently increased the taxes Gold Star families — those who lost a family member in military service — pay on their survivor benefits.
A group of seven Republican senators — Tim Scott, Rob Portman, Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst, Martha McSally, Susan Collins and Cory Gardner — wrote a similar letter urging action on the SECURE Act to Mr. McConnell on Oct. 16.