29 July 2021

Congress Finds Bipartisanship in Latest Tide of Retirement Bills

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Elected Republicans and Democrats in Washington are in the midst of high-profile debates on myriad complex issues, but in recent weeks, a flurry of retirement-related bills have been introduced, including some major bipartisan proposals.

The month of May has been promising for proponents of retirement security legislation, especially after the introduction of the Retirement Security and Savings Act on May 20 by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Ben Cardin, D-Md. Their bill, a version of which was last introduced in 2019, features more than 50 provisions aimed at getting people to save more for retirement, including increasing the tax credit for small business starting a new retirement plan; enhancing the $6,500 catchup contribution for those over age 60, raising it to $10,000; improving access to guaranteed lifetime income products and allowing employers to make matching contributions to retirement accounts of employees paying off qualified student-loan debt.

Many of the provisions also are included in the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021, which was introduced May 4 by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Ranking Member Kevin Brady, R-Texas. The House bill was unanimously passed out of committee by voice vote on May 5. It now heads to the full House, though a vote has yet to be scheduled.

The Senate and House bills build on the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, known as the SECURE Act, which Congress passed and was signed into law in late 2019.

Hopes are high for passage of a SECURE Act 2.0 package — like the current House and Senate proposals — this Congress.

"I am very much encouraged by the fact (that) despite the partisanship in many other areas, good-government retirement legislation remains an area of strong bipartisanship," said Kent Mason, a partner with law firm Davis & Harman LLP in Washington. "It is my hope that we can see a major retirement bill based mostly on Neal-Brady and Cardin-Portman enacted this year or next year. This has a chance to happen this year, but because of unrelated partisan pressures, it might not happen until next year. But I do believe that by sometime in 2022, we are likely to have seen enactment of this legislation."

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