A panel of experts Wednesday expressed support for a SECURE Act 2.0 package and said expanding features like automatic enrollment and scaling state-sponsored automatic IRA programs would help address the nation's coverage gap.
Lawmakers from both parties also said they were motivated to pass additional retirement security legislation Wednesday at a Senate Finance Committee hearing titled, "Building on Bipartisan Retirement Legislation: How Can Congress Help?"
Several bipartisan bills have been introduced this Congress, ranging from major retirement security packages to ones with more specific focuses, like allowing workers to make student loan payments while their employers make matching contributions to their defined contribution accounts, providing a penalty-free distribution option in the event of an emergency, and expanding saver's credit.
"As the economy continues to bounce back, we have a chance to build on the success of the SECURE Act in a bipartisan way," said Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee.
In 2019, the bipartisan retirement package, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, known as the SECURE Act, was signed into law.
The leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee — Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Ranking Member Kevin Brady, R-Texas — reintroduced the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021 on May 4 and held a markup May 5 during which members on both sides of the aisle commended the bill and approved it unanimously via voice vote. The next step is for the full House to consider the bill, though a vote has yet to be scheduled.
The House bill is similar in scope to the Retirement Security and Savings Act, introduced May 20 by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Ben Cardin, D-Md. Combined, the bills are likely to be the basis of a SECURE Act 2.0 package.
Each of the four witnesses at Wednesday's hearing — Aliya Robinson, senior vice president of retirement and compensation policy at the ERISA Industry Committee, Brian H. Graff, CEO of the American Retirement Association, David Certner, legislative counsel and policy director at the AARP, and Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read — spoke highly of the retirement-related bills before Congress.
In his prepared testimony, Mr. Graff said expanding coverage with auto-enrollment is the key to addressing racial inequities in retirement savings and he praised programs like OregonSaves, the first state-sponsored private-sector retirement program in the country.
"The ARA applauds the work and success of these state and local programs but believes a federal policy would better assure the retirement plan coverage gap can be addressed consistently throughout the entire country," Mr. Graff said.
Mr. Read said more than 110,000 Oregonians now have accounts with OregonSaves and participants have collectively saved more than $123 million dollars for their retirement since it launched in 2017.