Members of the House today voted 237-187 to approve H.R. 5297, a bill that includes a provision that could make it easier for annuity holders to annuitize a portion of the assets held in a contract.

The Senate already has passed H.R. 5297, the Small Business Lending Fund Act bill, and President Obama is exepcted to sign the bill soon.

The bill is a vehicle for getting many loan programs and tax break extension provisions through Congress.

The partial annuitization provision would help annuity holders keep some assets in a contract as is and annuitize other assets. Today, annuity holders who want to do that must exchange a single annuity for two smaller annuities, and then annuitize the assets in one of the new annuities.

Frank Keating, president of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, has put out a statement hailing House passage of the bill.

“The provision provides additional flexibility to a product that is playing a crucial role in helping Americans achieve retirement income security,” Keating says.

In addition to the partial annuitization provision, the bill includes a provision that could help retirement plan participants roll 401(k), 403(b) or 457 assets into Roth versions of the accounts.