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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Secure Act Savior Could Be Upcoming Appropriations Bill

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Industry lobbyists will be pushing in September to see that the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (Secure) Act of 2019, the big retirement bill that’s been languishing in the Senate, gets attached to an upcoming must-pass appropriations bill.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, “is working with his colleagues to get several holds lifted on the [Secure Act] legislation and to get the bill signed into law as soon as possible,” a Grassley spokesman told ThinkAdvisor Monday.

President Donald Trump signed a two-year, $2.7 trillion budget agreement in early August that wards off $126 billion in automatic spending cuts and suspends the debt ceiling through July 2021. But the legislation did not include funding for federal agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, which means a government shutdown could still be in the offing on Sept. 30, the 2019 fiscal year-end.

“The contentious atmosphere in D.C. causes each party to dig their heels in to extract even the smallest of ideological wins,” Jeff Bush of The Washington Update told ThinkAdvisor. “So the risk of a government shutdown is real, but I believe it is unlikely.”

What’s more likely to pass in September, Bush continued, “are a few, less contentious appropriation bills. The more disagreed upon appropriations, perhaps Health and Human Services, Labor and Homeland Security, may require a continuing resolution.”

The CR “will give appropriators more time to work through the line item minutia of appropriations,” Bush added.

The House and Senate must still pass a dozen fiscal 2020 funding bills that must also be signed by Trump.

Dan Zielinski, spokesman for the Insured Retirement Institute, told ThinkAdvisor Monday that while it’s “hard to say how the process will shake out right now – whether it will be a single appropriations bill or a combo ‘omnibus’ or ‘minibus’ measure,” IRI “and other stakeholder groups will be pushing hard to get [the Secure Act] done in September by finding an appropriate legislative vehicle to hitch our wagon to.”

The American Retirement Association is working to get the Secure Act “attached to anything that looks like it’s alive and moving,” Brian Graff, ARA’s president and CEO, added in a separate comment to ThinkAdvisor.

Andy Friedman of The Washington Update opines, however, that while he sees Congress avoiding a shutdown, “if necessary by passing a resolution simply to continue last year’s spending,” he doesn’t see the Secure Act being a priority. “Because getting appropriations passed will require full attention, I doubt Congress will try to add any extraneous legislation such as Secure.”

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