Top Finance Dem offers bill to help those repaying student loans save for retirement

Top Finance Dem offers bill to help those repaying student loans save for retirement
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Defense: Families sue over safety hazards at Army base | Lawmakers, NBA's Enes Kanter speak out ahead of Erdoğan visit | Washington braces for public impeachment hearings Federal court rules baseless searches of travelers' devices unconstitutional NBA's Enes Kanter speaks out against Erdoğan ahead of White House visit MORE (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, on Monday introduced a bill aimed at making it easier for those with student loan debt to save for retirement.

Under the bill, companies would be able to make matching contributions to the retirement plans of employees who are making student loan repayments.

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Currently, companies can only provide matching contributions to their employees’ 401(k) plans if the employees themselves are contributing to the plans. That means that employees who can’t afford to contribute to their retirement accounts because they are still paying off student loans have to go without the employer contribution.

Wyden is proposing a change so that recent college graduates with student loan debt don't have to miss receiving retirement contributions from their employers.

“Millions of college grads are buried under tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt that prevents them from building their future — buying a home, saving for retirement and starting a family,” Wyden said in a statement. “The sooner workers start to save for retirement the better, and paying down student loans shouldn’t stop them from building their nest egg. While a comprehensive response to the student loan debt crisis is needed, this policy change is an important piece of the puzzle.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellMicrosoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate Senators introduce cybersecurity workforce expansion bill Boeing chief faces anger over 737 crashes at hearing MORE (Wash.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Health Care: Democratic gains mark setback for Trump on Medicaid work requirements | Senate Dems give Warren 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder | Judge strikes Trump rule on health care 'conscience' rights Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder Former NAACP president to run for Cummings's House seat MORE (Md.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocratic senators seek documents on Trump's alleged call for Barr press conference Senate committee advances budget reform plan Bipartisan Enzi-Whitehouse budget bill a very bad fix for deficits MORE (R.I.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSunday shows — New impeachment phase dominates Brown confirms he won't enter 2020 race: 'I think it's a good field' GM officially sells Ohio plant, months after Trump touted sale MORE (Ohio), who all also serve on the Finance Committee.

The bill was introduced one day before the Finance Committee holds a hearing on “challenges in the retirement system.” Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress are interested in passing legislation this year to encourage retirement savings.

Wyden and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing Poll: 1 in 5 US adults report trouble affording prescription drugs MORE (R-Iowa) jointly introduced legislation in April that includes a host of other provisions aimed at making it easier for people to save for retirement. The House Ways and Means Committee approved a bipartisan bill last month, known as the SECURE Act, that has many similarities to Grassley and Wyden’s package.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerCongress hunts for path out of spending stalemate The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington braces for public impeachment hearings This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Md.) said last week that he is hopeful that the SECURE Act can pass the House before Memorial Day, but noted that lawmakers were still trying to work out disagreements related to a provision that would allow 529 college savings accounts to be used for homeschooling expenses. The provision relating to 529 plans is not in Grassley and Wyden’s package.