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Prospects for Pension Reform in 2022

February 3, 2022

With Democrats holding a slim majority in the House and an evenly divided Senate (with the Vice President serving as the tie breaker); the political environment in Washington is as polarized as ever.

That said, pension reform and retirement security have always found bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and we believe there is a reasonable chance for pension reform legislation this year.  

House and Senate Propose Pension Legislation

There are currently competing bills working their way through the House and Senate.

There are two bills in the House under consideration that focus in on areas its original version, the SECURE Act of 2019, didn’t flesh out, including preserving lifetime income, increasing access to retirement plans, increasing retirement saving, and simplifying retirement plan administration:

  • The House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D - MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R -TX) introduced the “Secure a Strong Retirement Act of 2020,” which has also been called “SECURE 2.0” that has passed out of Committee.
  • The House Education and Labor Committee (HELP) have advanced the Retirement Security and Savings Enhancement (RISE) Act.

We think that a full House vote on a SECURE 2.0 package is possible sometime in the first half of 2022. Such a bill would likely involve some merged version of the Ways and Means Committee’s SECURE 2.0 and the HELP Committee’s RISE Act. While those bills include many similarities, there are several important differences that will need to be worked out, including with respect to electronic delivery and missing participant issues.

The Senate is expected to act next on SECURE 2.0, as we understand that the Senate Finance and HELP Committees intend to hold mark-ups on retirement legislation in the first half of 2022.  

For the Finance Committee, Senators Rob Portman (R - OH) and Ben Cardin (D - MD) have worked for years to promote bipartisan pension legislation, and their Retirement Security & Savings Act (S. 1770) introduced in May, 2021,will serve as the basis for discussions. 

The Senate HELP Committee, under the leadership of Chairwoman, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) could use the RISE Act as a blueprint for any bipartisan retirement legislation that would be considered by the HELP Committee.  The details of any eventual package, however, will need to be hammered out by the HELP Committee over the coming months and will, of course, reflect the unique views of the Committee’s leaders and members.  

The Way Forward

There are less than 100 legislative calendar days before the midterm elections, and there are a number of areas that will take legislative priority, so the timing of pension reform legislation remains uncertain. 

Whether such a package is ultimately enacted in the coming year primarily depends on two key factors:

  • Whether the Committees and leaders responsible for shepherding the package through Congress can maintain the longstanding bipartisan support that has propelled retirement bills across the finish line in the past; and
  • Whether a retirement package can find its way into a larger deal, such as a broader spending or budget bill.

We are optimistic that a bipartisan legislative package could get across the finish line. Key retirements (Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX)) increase the chance, but don’t guarantee, that Congress will pass a SECURE 2.0 package before the end of the year.

MissionSquare Retirement will continue to closely monitor these bills and will keep you informed of developments. Please contact your MissionSquare Retirement Representative if you have questions.

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