Even with the passage of the first retirement security package in more than a decade shortly before the holiday recess, there is more retirement-related legislation that could get a look in 2020.
While the Setting Every Community up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, referred to as the SECURE Act, signed into law Dec. 20 was a thrill for those in the retirement community, leaders in both chambers of Congress are motivated to do more.
In the House, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has indicated that work on retirement security bills does not end with the SECURE Act.
"Improving Americans' retirement security remains a top priority of mine as Congress returns to Washington in 2020," Mr. Neal said in a statement to Pensions & Investments. He's working "bipartisanly on legislation that will essentially be the SECURE Act 2.0. I'm aiming to move the Automatic Retirement Plan Act and the Retirement Plan Simplification and Enhancement Act with that package."
Mr. Neal introduced the Automatic Retirement Plan Act, which would require many employers to offer a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, and the Retirement Plan Simplification and Enhancement Act, which among other provisions, would exempt retirement savings below $250,000 from complicated required minimum distribution rules and make it easier to take advantage of the saver's credit — in 2017 but has yet to do so this Congress.
Moreover, Mr. Neal said he would press his Senate colleagues to pass a multiemployer pension reform package, known as the Butch Lewis Act, which passed in the House last year and would create a federal loan program for struggling plans.
In the Senate, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., introduced the Retirement Security and Savings Act of 2019 in May, which features more than 50 provisions aimed at improving coverage with small employers and among part-time workers.
Passing the SECURE Act can help "pave the way for bolder reforms in legislation," Mr. Portman said in a statement Dec. 19. "I believe the Senate Finance Committee should hold hearings and a markup on (the Retirement Security and Saving Act), and I will work closely with Sen. Cardin to move it forward." Among its provisions, 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.
However, since 2020 is a presidential election year and an expected Senate impeachment trial will garner much attention, it will complicate lawmakers' efforts to pass more retirement legislation, sources said.
"Retirement legislation is always going to be bipartisan so I don't think there will be any partisan politics surrounding it, but I would imagine that the shortened year will probably make it difficult to get something together," said Christopher Spence, senior director of federal government relations for TIAA-CREF in Washington."The next package probably needs more vetting than they can do in a short time frame."