On the evening of Wednesday, July 24, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 397, the so-called Butch Lewis Act, which would establish a government funded Pension Rehabilitation Trust Fund for failing multiemployer pension plans.
After a little political maneuvering on the House Floor by Republicans, the final vote was 264 in favor and 169 against. There were 29 Republicans that joined with 235 Democrats to vote in favor of passing H.R. 397. As previously expected, no Democrats voted against passing this bill.
The Senate will now have its chance to weigh in on the proposed legislation. A final bill in the Senate will most likely look significantly different than the House-passed bill. Strong bipartisan support will be critical, especially since opposition is expected to what many consider a taxpayer bailout.
Important work for SMACNA lies ahead. SMACNA wants to ensure alternative benefit plans are authorized in a Senate bill and guarantee that system changes or mandates strike a delicate balance to keep employers participating in the plan.
SMACNA strongly believes that upcoming legislative action must acknowledge all the steps that the industry has taken to stabilize their plans and make sure that in helping the failing plans, Congress doesn’t overburden our plans.
SMACNA members are urged to reach out to your Senators during the August recess as an important first step. Please use the talking points emphasized in the letter SMACNA spearheaded before the House Ways and Means Committee markup. Additionally, feel free to contact SMACNA’s Capitol Hill office for more information at (202) 547-8202.
SMACNA will continue to update members with any additional developments on pension reform. Please read our previous reporting on this topic here.