The U.S. House of Representatives has voted 258-160 to approve a measure that could help foes of cash-balance pension plans.
The measure, which was introduced as an amendment to H.R. 2989, an appropriations bill, by Rep. Bernie Sanders, Independent-Vermont, forbids the federal government from spending any funding to overturn a federal district court decision dealing with cash-balance plans.
The U.S. District Court in East St. Louis found in July that efforts by IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., to convert to a cash-balance plan violated federal pension age-discrimination laws.
Sanders, a Democratic Socialist who operates as an Independent in a chamber run by the Republicans, succeeded at getting the amendment passed despite the opposition of groups such as the American Benefits Council.
“This vote sends a strong message to the Bush administration and the Treasury Department that the time has come to finally protect workers who have seen their pensions slashed through cash-balance conversions by immediately withdrawing their proposed cash-balance regulations,” Sanders says in a statement about the passage of the amendment. “In addition, it also sends a message that Congress supports the federal court ruling declaring that cash-balance plans are age discriminatory.”