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Bipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate

Bipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday introduced a package of bills designed to make it easier for Americans to save for retirement.

The four senators behind the legislation — Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSanders: Trump setting 'terrible example' for our children Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (D-N.J.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonFlake: Congress should not continue Kavanaugh investigations GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter Susan Collins becomes top 2020 target for Dems MORE (R-Ark.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (D-N.D.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungMnuchin pulls out of Saudi conference On The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference MORE (R-Ind.) — span the political spectrum, boosting the prospects for advancing the measures.

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"Our work on these bills shows a bipartisan commitment to improving economic security for workers and families, and I hope we can move them forward as they will make a difference for so many Americans who deserve to live with dignity both as workers and retirees," said Heitkamp.

One measure would pave the way for pooled employer plans, allowing smaller businesses to more easily offer retirement savings schemes for their workers.

Another bill would make more retirement savings automatic, requiring workers to opt out rather than opt in.

About one-third of private sector workers don’t have access to a workplace retirement plan, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also found that smaller businesses are significantly less likely to offer defined retirement plans compared to larger companies.

"Americans work hard day after day with often little promise of economic security in the future," Young said.

The third bill would create “emergency savings accounts” that would serve as alternatives to people accessing their retirement savings early for emergencies, while the fourth measure would allow tax filers to automatically put any tax refunds into a savings account. Those two policies would help Americans who are chronically low on savings.

More than 40 percent of Americans say they would not be able to cover an emergency expense of $400 without borrowing money or selling something, according to a report by the Federal Reserve. Automatically stashing away some cash from every paycheck into an emergency savings fund could help those individuals.

“These commonsense proposals will greatly help people save for their future and retire with dignity,” former Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who co-led a Bipartisan Policy Center commission on retirement security and personal savings that helped shape the Senate legislation.