In addition to the HELP Committee's RISE & SHINE Act, the Senate Finance Committee also advanced a bill out of committee in June, known as the Enhancing American Retirement Now Act, or EARN Act.
Melissa Kahn, managing director of retirement policy for State Street Global Advisors' defined contribution team, noted that SECURE 2.0 "has provisions dealing with access and coverage, savings sufficiency, lifetime income and, of course, financial wellness."
Along with a host of other provisions, the package allows for 403(b) plans to participate in multiple employer plans, which Ms. Kahn said "creates parity" for 403(b) plans and helps them "reduce all of their administrative and cost burdens."
Drew Carrington, senior vice president and head of institutional defined contribution at Franklin Templeton Investments, said the inclusion of the automatic-enrollment provision was slightly surprising, since only the House bill originally featured it.
The automatic-enrollment provision applies to new 401(k) and 403(b) plan participants at an initial amount of at least 3%, and that amount increases by 1 percentage point each year — unless the participant opts out — until it reaches 10%. The provision is set to take effect in 2025, though current 401(k) and 403(b) plans would be grandfathered. There are also exceptions for small businesses, new businesses, governmental plans and church plans.
Mr. Carrington noted that the provision expanding catch-up contributions will be "complicated" to implement for plan sponsors and record keepers, as it only increases limits for those aged 60, 61, 62 and 63.
SECURE 2.0 bumps up the catch-up contribution for these workers, increasing to the greater of $10,000 or 50% more than the regular catch-up amount in 2025.
SECURE 2.0 also includes a saver's match program, which would provide lower- and middle-income Americans with a 50% matching contribution of up to $2,000 in retirement savings annually deposited directly into an IRA or retirement plan. Ms. Kahn said this "benefits lower-income individuals, women and minorities."
Both Mr. Carrington and Ms. Kahn highlighted the student loan matching component as an important part of increasing financial wellness as well.
Many retirement organizations expressed their support for lawmakers' inclusion of SECURE 2.0 in the year-end spending bill.
Paul Richman, chief government and political affairs officer at the Insured Retirement Institute, said in a statement that the inclusion of SECURE 2.0 "means that Congress is poised to help millions more workers and retirees with significant improvements to the nation's private retirement system."
"We expect that the legislation will add billions to the retirement savings for small-business workers, part-time workers, employees with student loan debt, military spouses, low-income workers, and others," Mr. Richman said. "We are reviewing the approximately 100 retirement provisions in the measure with our members to understand the full implications."
"We are grateful to the many members of Congress and staff who worked tirelessly to get SECURE 2.0 included in the omnibus legislation expected to be enacted this week," said Brian Graff, CEO of the American Retirement Association, in a news release.
Thasunda Brown Duckett, president and CEO of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, said in a statement, "This is an important bipartisan step forward on retirement security and we urge members of Congress to swiftly unite on this bill and pass this legislation before the end of the year."
The Senate is expected to vote on the spending bill first, though both chambers of Congress must pass the bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week, when funding runs out.
While the bill still awaits a vote, Mr. Carrington noted that industry players are already looking ahead to what's next, and he said "continuous improvement" is the way to get things done.