Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., survived a primary challenge Tuesday that puts him in position to serve a 17th term in the next session of Congress and retain chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee if he wins re-election and the Democrats keep control of the House.
Mr. Neal has been a leading advocate for retirement security issues, including multiemployer pension reform.
He was a major force in the passage of the first retirement security package in more than a decade, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, or SECURE Act. At the time of its signing Dec. 20, Mr. Neal said further retirement security initiatives remained a top priority.
In 2017, 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. He has pledged to continue working to advance those.
Mr. Neal was also a major supporter of another coronavirus relief legislative package passed by the House in May that includes major changes for multiemployer pension plans. Negotiations with the Senate over the $3.4 trillion virus relief package have not advanced.
That package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES Act, passed the House 208-199 largely along party lines. It includes some funding relief for both multiemployer and single employer retirement plans, in a section titled the Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2020 that extends amortization periods for funding shortfalls, and several areas of relief for multiemployer pension plans.
The HEROES Act would also shore up the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s multiemployer program that is projected to be insolvent within five years. It gives the PBGC authority and resources to partition more troubled multiemployer pension plans and provide financial assistance to keep them solvent for 30 years, with no benefit cuts. The legislation also doubles the PBGC guarantee for multiemployer plans, which currently is much smaller than the one for single-employer plans.
In addition to the HEROES Act price tag, Republicans object to provisions that would repeal a cap on state and local tax deductions included in 2017's tax reform, and undo a change from an earlier relief measure — the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act — allowing companies to carry losses back to previous years with higher tax rates. The House bill also prohibits businesses from taking those losses if they make excessive stock buybacks and dividend payments or trigger limits on executive compensation deductions.