Neal Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Address Multiemployer Pension Crisis
Washington, DC, January 9, 2019
Today, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced his first bill of the 116th Congress, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, legislation to address the nation’s worsening multiemployer pension crisis. Currently, there are about 1,400 multiemployer plans covering about 10 million people across the country. Although multiemployer pension plans have been successful historically, today, a significant number of these plans have funding problems, and many are almost certain to run out of money. If they do, retirees, workers, and their families would lose benefits earned over a lifetime of work, through no fault of their own. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation, which has an additional four Democrat and four Republican co-sponsors.
“We all know retirees with failing multiemployer pension plans who now find themselves in a devastating predicament – from truck drivers to autoworkers to ironworkers, these Americans live in all of our communities,” said Chairman Neal. “In fact, there are 1.5 million Americans who are in plans that are quickly running out of money. These are American workers who planned for their retirement, who year after year chose to contribute to their pensions instead of taking a wage increase. Now, after working for decades, their planned retirements may be taken away from them. And taken away at a time when they’re no longer able to prepare for retirement because they’re now in retirement. There’s no time to waste in addressing this crisis, and that’s why I’ve chosen to make this the first piece of legislation I introduce as Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee.”
The bill establishes the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA), a new agency within the Department of the Treasury, authorized to issue bonds in order to finance loans to “critical and declining” status multiemployer pension plans, plans that have suspended benefits, and some recently insolvent plans currently receiving financial assistance from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The PRA would be headed by a Director, who will have a term of five years and be appointed by the President.
“This is not a bailout. These plans would be required by law to pay back the loans they receive from the PRA – the federal government is simply backstopping the risk,” added Chairman Neal. “Importantly, my bill does not allow for any cuts to the benefits these workers and retirees earned through years on the job. Americans need our help, and it’s time to answer that call.”
Additional original co-sponsors of the legislation are Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).