Retirement-savings bill supporters optimistic for passage this year

Written on Apr 05, 2018

Supporters of legislation designed to increase retirement savings are hopeful the measure will be approved by Congress later this year, despite being left out of a recent spending bill.

The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2018 (RESA) was introduced in the Senate in early March with the goal of attaching it to the omnibus fiscal 2018 appropriations bill, which wound up being the vehicle for several non-spending items, including a bill on business development companies.

But House lawmakers were reluctant to insert RESA into the spending package because it had not gone through the legislative process in that chamber. A House version of the bill, written by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wisc., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa., was introduced March 14 and has 22 bipartisan co-sponsors.

The House Ways and Means Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee each have jurisdiction over parts of the bill, which encourages employers to offer retirement plans and clarifies rules surrounding them.

The legislative path in the House is longer than in the Senate, where the measure has a head start. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved RESA in December 2016. But it died at the end of that year and had to be re-introduced last month by Senate Finance chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and the panel's ranking member, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

The difficulty will be finding a way to get it to the president's desk. The omnibus spending bill was seen as the last must-pass legislation of this Congress. Supporters hope it can be attached to another bill or advance as stand-alone legislation.

One of the factors giving the measure momentum is the fact that financial industry trade associations, such as IRI and the American Council of Life Insurers, and consumer advocates, such as AARP, are behind it.

AARP's concern about a provision of the 2016 bill that would make it easier for employers to include annuities in their retirement plans was eased when this year's version tweaked that area.

Under this year's measure, employers are given protections when determining the financial viability of annuities, but they still must meet existing rules when choosing a provider.

The united advocacy front is helpful for lobbying Capitol Hill.

Leave a comment