The biggest life insurance industry group is joining the campaign to persuade Congress to make the 2001 pension reform provisions permanent.[@@]

The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, is one of 78 groups that has signed a letter developed by the American Benefits Council, Washington, that calls on Congress to keep the pension reform provisions from expiring in 2010 as the result of a “sunset” provision limiting the number of years that the provisions could remain in effect.

President Bush brought the provisions to life when he signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

The benefits council sent the letter now because the House and Senate are working on a budget blueprint that will shape appropriations and tax actions for the fiscal year that starts in October.

Later in the year, supporters will need a super-majority of 60% to override the budget blueprint. Today, supporters can get a provision included in the blueprint with just 51% of the voting lawmakers.

The provisions at risk increased the dollar limits on pension plan contributions and benefits, simplified pension regulations, and improved pension portability, according to the benefits council letter.

The EGTRRA changes also provided new incentives for small employers to start plans and removed some barriers to sound pension funding, the council writes.

“Low- and moderate-income workers now directly benefit from these provisions as revised nondiscrimination rules ensure that all workers can take advantage of increased benefit and contribution limits,” the council writes.