Bipartisan House-Senate Committee Will Address Multiemployer Pension Problems

By John Iekel • February 07, 2018 • 0 Comments
A bipartisan committee composed of members from both houses of Congress will be formed to examine ways to address the solvency problems facing multiemployer pension plans, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced on Feb. 7. His office said in the announcement that he had urged the creation of the committee as part of a budget compromise unveiled on the same day.

The committee will have 12 members that House and Senate leaders will appoint — six from each chamber and an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. The committee is to hold at least five public meetings, including at least one outside of Washington, D.C., and report a bill by the end of November.

If at least four members from each party agree on a compromise, the committee’s recommendation will be guaranteed an expedited vote on both the House and Senate floors with no amendments.

Brown intends the committee to be a means to force Congress’ hand in addressing the funding problems facing unions’ multiemployer plans. Those problems affect numerous such plans in his home state of Ohio and more than 1 million union workers nationwide. “If nothing is done to the plans, they will fail and retirees will face massive cuts to the benefits they earned over decades of work,” he said in a press release, adding that the committee will force Congress to treat the matter with “seriousness and urgency.”

Brown on Nov. 16, 2017 introduced S. 2147, the Butch Lewis Act of 2017, a measure that would create a Pension Rehabilitation Trust Fund and establish a Pension Rehabilitation Administration within the Treasury Department to make loans to multi-employer pension plans. A House version, H.R. 4444, was introduced on the same day. Brown’s bill was referred to two Senate committees: Finance, and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the latter of which held a hearing on the measure on Jan. 30.

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