Working to find actionable solutions to the nation's key challenges.

House and Senate Bills Seek to Improve Retirement Security in America

By Ashley Ridlon

Friday, November 18, 2016

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This is the third post in our series about promising proposals to advance retirement security in America. 

Despite the campaign politics and legislative gridlock leading up to election day, some lawmakers have been hard at work in recent months, taking meaningful steps toward addressing a key issue for all Americans—retirement security. Less than half of private-sector workers participate in a workplace retirement savings plan—roughly one-third don’t even have access to a plan—and many Americans are woefully under-prepared for financial security in retirement.

Several new bills take aim at these challenges and would advance important goals, such as improving access, protecting retirement savings, simplifying account rules and regulations, and facilitating lifetime-income options for participants. These are consistent with what numerous experts, including the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings, have recommended.

“The most important factor in determining whether workers will save adequately for retirement is their ability to participate in a retirement plan through their employer,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “[The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act] will provide a number of options that will expand access to employer-sponsored retirement plans for workers in companies of all sizes.”

“Taxpayers are pouring dollars into incentives for retirement savings, but still far too many Americans struggle to set money aside after they cover the basics,” said Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) of his draft legislation, the RISE Act. “Tax incentives for savings ought to be available to more working families and more generous to the middle class.”

House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) called upon his House and Senate colleagues to make improving the nation’s multi employer pension system an urgent priority, saying his proposal would “provide more retirement choices for workers, more flexibility for employers, and greater protection for taxpayers.”

Economic policy experts at BPC have analyzed various provisions in the Senate Finance Committee’s RESA legislation as part of a blog series and have submitted comment letters to Ranking Member Wyden on the RISE Act and Chairman Kline on the draft Multiemployer Pension Modernization Act, based on work by BPC’s commission.

Thanks to the initiative of these leaders, some important retirement security issues are ready for thoughtful consideration in the next Congress, putting meaningful solutions for Americans within reach.