Higgins Announces Bill Protecting the Retirement Savings of Hardworking Americans Advances in the House of Representatives
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced that H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, passed the House Ways & Means Committee and will now be considered by the full House of Representatives. Also known as the Butch Lewis Act, H.R. 397 would address the nation’s multiemployer pension crisis by creating a Pension Rehabilitation Administration under the Department of the Treasury, and within it a trust fund that would provide loans for certain multiemployer defined benefit pension plans that are in danger of becoming insolvent or are insolvent. Congressman Higgins is a cosponsor of the legislation, and has cosponsored previous versions of the bill as well as spoken on the House floor in support.
Multiemployer pension plans (MEPs) are retirement plans that represent employees across multiple collective bargaining agreements and sometimes across different industries and are intended to provide additional security to beneficiaries by reducing risk through adding more contributors. Some of these plans represent multiple small employers for whom sustaining a pension plan may not be possible on their own.
Two years ago, approximately 34,000 Teamsters in New York State, including over 5,000 in Western New York had their retirement payments cut by up to 29% due to steep decreases in their pension fund.
There are currently more than 200 multiemployer pension plans that face the prospect of failing, many of which could become insolvent in the next ten to twenty years, impacting over 1.5 million workers and retirees.
By providing loans to shore up troubled MEPs, the Butch Lewis Act would ensure that Americans who worked their whole lives for the promise of a secure retirement will not see their hard-earned benefits cut or taken away from them. The bill would provide support to workers at risk of pension plan insolvency in the future as well as those who have recently suffered from reduced benefits.
During the markup, Congressman Higgins said: “It seems as though when good hard-working people are stuck, all these obstacles to providing some help are advanced. But when [large corporations] run into problems, when we had the savings and loans problem with the huge government bailout, it's a different situation. I think we have an obligation to do what's right, to pass this bill today on behalf of hard-working Americans who will spend this money which will help drive economic growth moving forward.”
To see Congressman Higgins’ full remarks, click above or go to: https://youtu.be/2Wt69WuWhm8