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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

Congress Adds Secure Act to Year-End Spending Bill

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House and Senate leaders have attached the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (Secure) Act to the year-end spending bill.

The Secure Act, HR 1994, is being billed as the most comprehensive retirement security legislation in more than a decade.

“We have a first down and goal on the 1-yard line,” said Wayne Chopus, president and CEO, Insured Retirement Institute. “Congress and the President are about to deliver a meaningful, positive benefit to millions of American workers by expanding opportunities to save for and achieve a dignified retirement.”

On Nov. 20, the Senate passed the House version of a continuing resolution to fund the government until Dec. 20. However, the Secure Act was not attached to the CR.

The House is expected to consider the year-end spending bill on Tuesday, with the Senate taking up the measure on Wednesday or Thursday, according to an IRI spokesman.

The current CR expires on Friday.

The December CR “will provide another opportunity for attaching and passing Secure,” Andy Friedman founder and principal of The Washington Update, told ThinkAdvisor in a previous interview.

Friedman said that Congress “might be inclined then to finish year-end business, which provides a better chance for Secure’s enactment.”

The American Benefits Council applauded Secure’s inclusion in the year-end spending bill, stating that “among the many valuable elements of the Secure Act is a measure that would address a glitch in the nondiscrimination rules affecting participants in frozen pension plans,” referring to Sen. Rob Portman’s Retirement Security Preservation Act, which is included in Secure.

Portman, R-Ohio, said in a Monday statement that his bill would “reform pension nondiscrimination laws to prevent more than 400,000 Americans from having their pensions frozen through no fault of their own.”

“Including the Secure Act in the FY 2020 funding bill is a big victory that will help ensure that all hard-working Americans have a chance to build a nest egg for their retirement,” Portman said.  “It also includes two provisions I’ve championed to help expand access to 401(k)s and allow individuals choosing to work later in life to keep saving for retirement. I look forward to the president signing this legislation into law quickly to strengthen the retirement security of the American people.”

Several components of Portman’s bipartisan Retirement Security & Savings Act, which he introduced with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., are also included in the Secure Act.

IRA guru Ed Slott told ThinkAdvisor in a recent email that “the big negative” of the Secure Act is the elimination of the stretch IRA.

“It’s unfair to long-time savers to change the rules at the end of this long game. Those with 401(k)s and IRAs made long-term plans relying on a set of rules that now are in jeopardy. Breaking this promise makes people wonder if they can trust Congress when it comes to long-term planning. In this case they cannot. I wonder how many in Congress are hearing about this from their constituents? I don’t think enough people are aware of this.”


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