Neal Opening Statement at Retirement Hearing
Washington, D.C., November 7, 2023
(As prepared for delivery)
The last two Congresses will be remembered by the historic, bipartisan retirement wins put forward by this Committee.
Many people have asked me how we’d follow those successes or for the contours of SECURE 3.0. I certainly never expected this Majority would start retirement policy with woke, broke, and legislation outside of our jurisdiction.
I’d argue all our policy areas are ripe for bipartisan progress, but especially retirement—and all we are offered is another manufactured crisis meant to distract the base from the lack of legislating.
Contrast that with the fruits of our legislative achievements. Last week, our nation crossed the threshold of 14 million jobs created under President Biden. The unemployment rate has been below 4 percent for 21 months in a row—that’s the longest stretch in more than 50 years. Meanwhile, more working-age Americans have jobs than did before the pandemic, inflation has fallen by 60%, and the economy grew at 4.9 percent last quarter.
Our investments empowered workers and created the environment that made it possible for the United Autoworkers to secure record contracts that recognize the record growth of the Big 3. Their wage wins, more paid leave, stronger retirement security, and other wins will reverberate throughout our economy, and continue strengthening the job market.
None of this happen by accident, It’s the result of growing the economy from the bottom up and middle out. Democrats are rewriting the playbook, putting American workers and families first and doing away with Republicans’ failed trickle-down economics that only reward the wealthy and well-connected.
A key piece of economic security is retirement security. Retirement policy has been a focus of my career, and I’m extremely proud of how the bipartisan work from this Committee has made it easier to save. In the SECURE Act, we eliminated outdated barriers, making it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans, and required some part-time workers to be included in 401(k) plans. From these changes, it is estimated nearly 5 million Americans will be able to participate in their employer retirement vehicle. Last year, we doubled down on this success with SECURE 2.0, which expanded the Saver’s credit to benefit lower income savers and automatically enrolls eligible workers in key plans.
These changes have made serious headway in making it easier for working Americans to save for retirement.
Ways and Means Democrats did the right thing for red states and blue states by fighting to include the Butch Lewis Act in the American Rescue Plan. After a lifetime of playing by the rules and saving for retirement, millions were at risk of losing their hard-earned pensions and the provisions that came out of this committee saved families and our economy from irreversible harm. Today, 770,000 plans have already been rescued.
While this is welcomed progress, there is still a retirement crisis in our country. About half of working-age households are at risk of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. There is real work to be done in the retirement space—and the best way to ensure Americans are saving more is helping them make more. That’s what we should be talking about today!
Yet, here we are, following the most productive Congresses in recent memory with the most unproductive. The biggest threats to Americans’ retirement security are the calls for cuts to Social Security and the obsession with hysteria and fringe issues from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Could you imagine after a lifetime of hard work being told by House Republicans how you can and cannot invest your savings?
The public isn’t interested in being told what to do by the government. Politicizing retirement policy only jeopardizes workers’ hard-earned savings, and that’s the last thing the American people need.
With that, I yield back the balance of my time.