Senate nixes Obama-era retirement rule
© Greg Nash
The Senate nixed an Obama-era regulation Wednesday that made it easier for states to create retirement plans for some workers. 
 
Senators voted 50-49 on the House-passed resolution, rolling back a rule meant to encourage states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers who do not have access to an employer-based retirement plan. 
 
GOP Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (Tenn.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Paying attention to critical infrastructure can combat sophisticated cyberattacks Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up MORE (Ind.) voted against repealing the rule. Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Ill.), who had outpatient surgery this week, missed the vote, which allowed the Senate to avoid a tie and pass the measure.
 
The Obama-era rule, implemented in October 2016, would exempt the state-created plans from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, a law that outlines rules for workplace savings.
 
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Congress eliminated a similar regulation last month that targeted a state's "political subdivisions" such as cities and counties. 
 
Republicans argue the Labor Department rules are another example of executive overreach under the Obama administration and are overly burdensome for businesses. 
 
"States ... are already using this authority to impose new mandates on both large and small employers, including start-up businesses. Some of the mandates apply regardless of the size of the businesses," said Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDrug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 Financial market transactions should not be taxed or restricted MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Finance Committee. 
 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony McCarthy, McConnell say they didn't watch Jan. 6 hearing MORE (R-Ky.) added that the Obama rule would give "government-run retirement plans with a competitive advantage over private sector workplace plans, while providing fewer basic consumer protections to the workers who would be forced to contribute to them." 
 
But Democrats and outside groups urged their GOP counterparts to buck the resolution, warning that the state-started plans could help prevent a "retirement crisis" for low-income workers. 
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a joint statement asking President Trump to veto the resolution and keep the Obama-era rule in place. 
 
"We strongly urge the President to veto the bill if it is passed by the Senate today, which would show he really did mean it when he said he understood the plight of the American worker. If President Trump vetoes this misguided bill, Democrats in Congress will stand by him and ensure the veto is sustained," they said. 
 
The AARP also sent a letter to senators this week urging them to keep the Obama-era rule, noting that tens of millions of Americans don't have access to a workplace savings account. 

"AARP urges the Senate to allow state flexibility to support more private retirement savings opportunities, and to vote no on H.J. Res. 66," the group wrote.

Finance officials with roughly two dozen states also sent a letter earlier this week warning that without access to a savings account, workers could retire in poverty. 

"States are pursuing a multitude of solutions to address this growing retirement savings crisis," they wrote. "We insist that states be allowed to maintain their constitutional rights to implement such legislation."

GOP lawmakers are using the Congressional Review Act to undo regulations implemented late in former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama to join NBA Africa as strategic partner Obama setting up big bash to celebrate his 60th A path to climate, economic and environmental justice is finally on the horizon MORE's tenure by a simple majority.