A multiemployer pension reform package that would create a federal loan program for struggling plans was reintroduced Wednesday in the Senate, as the House prepared to vote on similar legislation.
The 27 Senate sponsors include former members of a now-disbanded bipartisan House and Senate Joint Select Committee on multiemployer pensions Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tina Smith, D-Minn., Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
Approval of similar legislation in the Democratically controlled House, known as the Butch Lewis Act, was expected later Wednesday, given that it was sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass.
But the partisan vote means that there will need to be compromises when the Senate takes up its version under the leadership of Mr. Brown and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who have stressed that it will take a bipartisan approach.
That point was echoed in a statement Wednesday by Gordon Hartogensis, the newly installed director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which would gain more funding to provide assistance to struggling plans under the legislative proposal.
"Only bipartisan compromises have a chance of succeeding and it is time to renew such bipartisan efforts to find serious solutions," Mr. Hartogensis said.
"Congress should enact a long-term, sustainable solution taking into account fairness to retirees, workers, taxpayers, and employers, to improve retirement security for hard-working Americans and their families," he said, adding that he looks forward to working with all stakeholders — the White House, the Senate, the House, the departments of Labor, Treasury and Commerce, the multiemployer plan community, workers, employers and retirees — on a long-term solution.
House Republicans, including ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, tried unsuccessfully to amend Mr. Neal's bill during committee markup by adding measures to prevent more multiemployer pension funds from becoming underfunded, including more stringent discount rates for calculating liabilities, more conservative investments, higher PBGC premiums and lower benefit promises.