Congressional negotiators seem to be succeeding with efforts to combine the conflicting House and Senate pension benefit reform bills.

Some are saying the conference committee in charge of the effort may complete its work before the summer recess begins July 27.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says parts of the bill are already being drafted into legislative language.

“There’s still some loose ends to be finalized on the major issues, but they are really loose ends,” Grassley says.

The “loose ends” include provisions in the bill that relate to defined contribution retirement plans, says Michael Kerley, a senior vice president at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va.

Kerley says he is becoming “reasonably optimistic” that the final bill will include a provision permitting agents for insurers that administer 401(k) programs to offer participants investment advice.

Kerley is cautiously optimistic about a provision from the House version of the bill that could let insurers include long term care riders with annuities and a provision from both versions that will encourage employers to enroll employees in 401(k) plans automatically.

Members of the conference committee still have to discuss a provision from the Senate version that would codify current tax treatment of corporate-owned life insurance and set COLI sales standards, Kerley says.