While broad bipartisan support remains strong on Capitol Hill for the SECURE Act with resolute encouragement from the retirement industry, the chances of passing a sweeping retirement security package this Congress are dwindling.
Industry proponents are hoping the Setting Every Community up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, referred to as the SECURE Act, will pass before the holiday recess at the end of December because Congress rarely passes legislation in a presidential election year that does more than keep the government funded and other must-do responsibilities.
The latest attempt to get the measure passed via unanimous consent failed Nov. 7 in the Senate, with lawmakers unable to reach an agreement on potentially adding amendments to the bill.
And with a presidential impeachment trial expected to soon dominate Washington, senators will likely be singularly concentrated on the high-stakes event.
"Even though people want to walk and chew gum at the same time, there's only so many hours they can devote to other things if they are completely focused on an impeachment trial," said Melissa Kahn, Washington-based managing director of retirement policy for State Street Global Advisors' defined contribution team.
The impeachment process, which ramped up Oct. 31 when the House voted to formalize the inquiry, will have an effect on just about every legislative effort, said Kent Mason, a partner with law firm Davis & Harman LLP in Washington.
"There will be a great effort on the Hill to say, 'We can do this and we can still legislate at the same time,'" Mr. Mason said. "I know they're conscious of that, but the impeachment process takes up a lot of time, and it obviously does not improve bipartisanship, so I think it will have an effect on SECURE like it has an effect on many, many things in terms of both time available and political will to work together."
Christopher Spence, senior director of federal government relations for TIAA-CREF in Washington, is still optimistic about the chances of the measure passing but added that a potential Senate trial is a concern.
"The reality is that impeachment could only really hinder things moving forward in the legislative process, but I think the legislative process still has to continue and that means that there's still going to be opportunities for things like the SECURE Act to get done before the end of this year," he said.