WASHINGTON BUREAU — A new Senate jobs bill would ease funding requirements for defined benefit pension plans and leave out a provision that could expand the U.S. Labor Department’s retirement plan fee disclosure authority.
Like the House bill, the Senate bill also omits any provision that would extend the 65% federal COBRA health benefits continuation subsidy through Dec. 31.
The Senate bill, which is, technically, Substitute Amendment 4301 to H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, was introduced Tuesday by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
The Senate today debated amendments to S.A. 4301.
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One, S.A. 4304, introduced by Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., would increase access to dependent coverage for children of enrollees in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program to children up to age 26, from age 22. A motion to “waive all applicable budgetary discipline” in connection with that amendment failed by a 57-42 vote. Cardin needed 60 votes to win approval for the amendment.
DEFINED BENEFIT PLANS
The American Benefits Council, Washington, and other employer groups have been lobbying hard for pension funding rules changes , arguing that enforcing the rules now in place could force employers to shut down pension plans altogether.
The defined benefit plan provisions in the new Senate bill are comparable to the provisions in the bill passed May 28 by the House, but there are some technical differences, according to the benefits council.
Current law lets employers amortize funding shortfalls over a 7-year period.
Both the House and Senate versions would let single-employer plan sponsors to extend the amortization period to 9 years, with interest paid only in the first 2 years.