Supporters of H.R. 397, the “Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act of 2019″ bill, may have attracted enough Republican support for the bill to give the bill some hope in the Senate.
Members of the House voted 264-169 Wednesday on final passage of H.R. 397.
Democrats voted 235-0 in favor of the bill.
Republicans voted 29-168 against the bill.
If H.R. 397 becomes law and is implemented as written, it could provide about $70 billion in loans for struggling multiemployer plans over the next 10 years. Plan sponsors could use the loans to transfer responsibility for the pension obligations to private life insurers, by buying group annuities.
Sponsors of single-employer U.S. defined benefit pension plans made about $26 billion in group annuity-based pension risk transfer deals in 2018, according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute.
H.R. 397 Background
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, introduced H.R. 397 in January.
The bill, which is often called the Butch Lewis Act bill, has attracted 209 cosponsors, including nine Republicans.
The bill lets plans use the new loans to build their own plan funding portfolios but gives the sponsors strong incentives to transfer risk by buying group annuities. If eligible sponsors used most of the pension rehabilitation loans to buy group annuities, the bill could lead to private life insurers taking responsibility for providing the promised pension benefits for about 1 million plan participants and dependents.
House members hold many “procedural votes” on a major bill before actually voting on the bill.
House members voted entirely, or almost entirely, along party lines for many of the procedural votes that led up to the final vote on H.R. 397.
On the first vote, on whether to bring up the bill for debate on the House floor, Democrats voted 234-0 to bring up the bill for consideration.
Republicans voted 0-197 against bringing the bill up for discussion.
But, on the vote on final passage, about 15% of House Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the bill.
Supporters of an ordinary bill need 60 votes to bring the bill up for a vote on the Senate.