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 CorkerPollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge GOP gets used to saying 'no' to Trump Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump on tariffs MORE (Tenn.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungGOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Menendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions Senate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats MORE (Ind.) voted against repealing the rule. Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal 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 HatchHatch warns 'dangerous' idea of court packing could hurt religious liberty Former Democratic aide pleads guilty to doxing GOP senators attending Kavanaugh hearing How do we prevent viral live streaming of New Zealand-style violence? MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Finance Committee. 
 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Mueller report is a deterrent to government service Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Anti-smoking advocates question industry motives for backing higher purchasing age 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. 
 
 
"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 ObamaJuan Williams: Buttigieg already making history Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Trump hits Romney for Mueller criticism MORE's tenure by a simple majority.