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Bipartisan Senate Legislation to Boost Retirement Savings

Washington, D.C.? In a promising display of bipartisanship, four senators introduced legislation today to help millions of Americans save for retirement.

These bills tackle several ongoing and serious challenges for the country. One-third of private-sector workers lack access to any workplace retirement plan, more than 40 percent of Americans say they could not cover a $400 emergency expense, and more than 40 percent of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are projected to run short on funds in retirement.

The package of bills sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Cotton (R-AK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Todd Young (R-IN) would increase access to workplace retirement savings accounts, help workers who already have retirement accounts save more, and prevent leakage from retirement accounts by making it easier for people to save for short-term needs.

The four bills contain policies consistent with recommendations from BPC’s Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings led by former Sen. Kent Conrad and James B. Lockhart III.

These bills are a serious and measured step towards a brighter financial future for retirees in the United States

“These commonsense proposals will greatly help people save for their future and retire with dignity,” Conrad said. “These four senators are providing critical bipartisan leadership to address the retirement challenges faced by millions of Americans.”

“These bills are a serious and measured step towards a brighter financial future for retirees in the United States,” Lockhart said. “This legislation is an excellent example of much-needed bipartisan cooperation that has been lacking in our national politics.”

Specifically, the bills would:

  • Increase access to workplace retirement plans by allowing for pooled employer plans, which will make it easier for small business owners to offer retirement benefits to their employees
  • Boost retirement savings by incentivizing employers to adopt plans with automatic enrollment
  • Reduce emergency withdrawals from retirement accounts and increase short-term savings by allowing employers to automatically enroll their workers in emergency savings accounts
  • Make it easier for individuals to automatically save their tax refunds

“It is important that retirement security doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of our national debate,” Shai Akabas, BPC economic policy director, said. “With nearly half of working-age Americans concerned about their financial prospects in retirement, this legislation is a significant bipartisan opportunity to help allay those fears.”

Additional Resources: 

Legislative Summary