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New Senate Bill Would Address Key Retirement Security Challenges

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced a Wednesday markup of new legislation to address underfunded coal-miner pensions and make several improvements to enhance Americans’ financial security in planning for retirement.

“Despite federal funding and other debates occurring this week as Congress prepares to adjourn, we are encouraged by progress in the Senate Finance Committee on legislation to improve retirement security in America,” said Shai Akabas, director of fiscal policy for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Several provisions in the proposed Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2016 align with the goals and recommendations of BPC’s Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings in its report, Securing our Financial Future. For example, among other items, the bill would reduce administrative and reporting requirements for businesses that share retirement plans with other businesses, and facilitate lifetime-income options through education and clearer rules, aiming to reduce individuals’ risk of outliving their savings in retirement.

“This is the type of thoughtful product that can result from bipartisan negotiations. Although modest relative to the scope of our retirement security challenges, this legislation takes positive steps, brings attention to these critical issues, and gives hope for broader action,” Akabas added.

In the near term, as the committee continues its work on this legislation, additional provisions could be incorporated to facilitate “open MEP” or “pooled” employer plans. Such proposals have the potential to significantly reduce the administrative and fiduciary responsibilities on businesses wishing to offer retirement plans while protecting consumers, similar to BPC’s recommended Retirement Security Plans, which proposed certification and oversight processes.

BPC will release a series of blogs in the coming weeks analyzing key provisions in the legislation. In addition to reforms that would expand access to workplace retirement plans and facilitate lifetime-income options, the commission addressed other personal savings issues and reached agreement on a package to strengthen Social Security and resolve its financial challenges.

KEYWORDS: SHAI AKABAS, SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE, SOCIAL SECURITY, ORRIN HATCH, RON WYDEN, COMMISSION ON RETIREMENT SECURITY AND PERSONAL SAVINGS, 114TH CONGRESS