Congress’ Gaze on Retirement Issues in Upcoming Hearings

By Nevin Adams • September 11, 2014 • 0 Comments

When it rains, it pours — in a single week we have had two announcements of congressional hearings on retirement plan issues slated for next week.

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on retirement issues, titled “Retirement Savings 2.0: Updating Savings Policy for the Modern Economy," on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 10 a.m. 

Among the key witnesses: ASPPA member Scott Betts, Senior Vice President, National Benefit Services, from West Jordan, Utah. Other scheduled witnesses include: 

  • Mr. John C. Bogle, Founder and Former CEO, Vanguard, Vanguard, Pa. 
  • Dr. Brian Reid, Chief Economist, Investment Company Institute, Washington, D.C. 
  • Ms. Ellen Schultz, Author and Investigative Reporter, formerly with The Wall Street Journal, New York, N.Y. 
  • Dr. Brigitte C. Madrian, Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Dr. Andrew G. Biggs, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.    

And on the other side of the Capitol, the focus will be on defined benefit plans. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), who chairs the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, has announced that the subcommittee will hold a hearing on DB pension plans private sector employers offer, including both multi-employer plans and single employer plans. Specifically, the hearing will focus on some of the challenges facing “employers, employees, and retirees who rely on DB pension plans to help provide retirement security,” as well as the funding rules governing multi-employer plans, as well as selected issues that affect single employer plans.

The House hearing, which appears to have been pulled together rather quickly, is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:15 a.m.

Insights as to the focus of the hearing might be gleaned from the announcement’s reference to H.R. 5381 (introduced July 31, 2014, by Tiberi), and H.R. 2117 (introduced May 22, 2013, by Ranking Member Richard Neal, D-Mass.) which were “designed to protect longer-service participants in DB plans that are closed to new entrants by allowing cross-testing between DB and defined contribution plans” Other issues cited as affecting single employer plans include the impact of the in-service distribution rules on employees’ retirement schedules and the effect of mortality tables on funding requirements.

In announcing the House hearing, Chairman Tiberi said, “I have heard for years now from hundreds of businesses and nonprofits about the need for pension reforms, especially for DB plans. Increasing pension costs have hampered both the job growth and capital investment needed to grow the economy and have threatened retirement security for American workers. The cost of doing nothing is too high a price to pay. This hearing will give us the opportunity to examine challenges facing, and opportunities to strengthen, the DB pension system.”

Oral testimony at the hearing will be from invited witnesses only, but the announcement notes that “…any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Subcommittee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing”

A list of those invited witnesses was not yet available. Stay tuned.

Additional details – and instructions on how to submit testimony for consideration – are available here.