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Rep. Richard Neal

Regulation and Compliance > Legislation

Rep. Neal Highlights 2 Important Parts of 'Historic' Secure 2.0 Act

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., hailed his Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (Secure) 2.0 Act of 2022 as “historic” during a call with reporters Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re on the eve, I hope, of passing very important legislation in the retirement space — this again is a historic advance on what we were able to do just a few years ago in terms of [the original] Secure, and now we move on to Secure 2.0,” Neal said.

Secure Act 2.0 retirement provisions are part of the $1.7 trillion 2023 omnibus appropriations bill that was released early Tuesday morning by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

“Just about all of our House provisions, if not all of them, have been kept,” Neal said.

Both bills — the Secure Act of 2019 and Secure 2.0 Act of 2022— originated in the Ways and Means Committee, Neal noted.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape on this,” Neal continued. “Remember, the House passed it [Secure 2.0] in spring. We were anxiously awaiting Senate action, and that seems to have finally occurred.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday evening on the Senate floor that “we’re still working on an agreement to vote on amendments and pass the omnibus tonight. We aren’t there yet, we’re making progress. But if we do not reach agreement, because of the urgency of getting this done I will file cloture this evening for a Friday cloture vote.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said that pending Senate action on an amendment to the omnibus bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, the House may vote on the omnibus Thursday.

Neal noted during the call two provisions that “he’s very pleased that have stayed,” and that he “pushed really hard on” — automatic enrollment in workplace retirement plans and the savers credit.

“Automatic enrollment is essential, largely because if younger employees are given an option typically they would prefer the money in their pocket through the pay mechanism at the end of the week. We provide the opportunity for the employer to say, ‘you’re automatically enrolled,’” Neal said.

“That doesn’t mean that they can’t opt out if they decide to. We have reversed that. Rather than what was very popular at one point, and that was the idea you could opt out easily, we’ve decided to give them automatic enrollment and make it difficult to opt out. The reason for that I think goes to what we call in the industry, ‘leakage,’” he said.

Also, “the work we did on the savers credit — I think that’s a big deal,” Neal said, adding that the Secure 2.0 Act “will help millions of Americans.”

Neal noted that his “next pledge” going forward is his auto-IRA proposal.

“This is historic,” Neal concluded. “I think that retirement security is a substantial national issue, and we think that convincing people to start saving at an earlier stage of life is a good thing, and provides considerable independence down the road.”

Also, he continued, “what we want to keep in mind here is that we need employers to help out, not only with sponsorship of a plan, we certainly want the match for all, but the other part is educating employees. That’s why we think automatic enrollment is so important.”

Secure 2.0 — which passed the House on a 414-5 vote — has been a bipartisan priority as many of its champions won’t be around much longer. Neal won’t be chairman of Ways and Means next year. Ranking member Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is retiring, as is Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a writer of the Retirement Security and Savings Act of 2021.


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