There aren't many truly bipartisan issues in Washington these days, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are eager to pass another retirement security package in 2021 and are optimistic about their chances.
In the House, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, introduced the Securing a Strong Retirement Act in October. The bill, which would have to be reintroduced in the new Congress, would require, among dozens of provisions, 401(k), 403(b) and Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees — known as SIMPLE plans — to automatically enroll workers upon becoming eligible while giving employees the opportunity to opt out; raise the age at which individuals are required to begin withdrawing a percentage of their tax-deferred retirement plan to 75 from 72; and create a national online database of lost retirement accounts in order to reduce the number of missing participants. "Retirement policy is an area where I see great potential for bipartisan agreement," Mr. Neal said in a statement to Pensions & Investments. "I anticipate (the Securing a Strong Retirement Act) will quickly advance" in 2021.
Mr. Brady touted the bill during a webinar hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Dec. 10 and said it builds on the Setting Every Community up for Retirement Enhancement Act, commonly known as the SECURE Act, a massive retirement security package Congress passed in 2019.
The Securing a Strong Retirement Act already has strong support in the House and "we are working to move it as soon as possible," said Jesse A. Solis, a spokesman for Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee, in an email.
In the Senate, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., will likely lead the way in taking up retirement security legislation next Congress. The two reintroduced the Retirement Security and Savings Act in May 2019 and are expected to do so again in the new Congress. The bill features more than 50 provisions aimed at improving coverage with small employers and among part-time workers. Similar in scope to the House proposal, the bill would reduce barriers to lifetime income options, establish 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.
Mr. Portman in December chaired a hearing on the challenges facing Americans' retirement security and sounded optimistic about the passage of legislation in the next Congress. "This is an opportunity for bipartisan work … Regardless of who gets the majority in the Senate come January, this is an area where I think we have the potential to make some real progress because I think it has been, and will be, bipartisan," he said.