Senators offer bipartisan retirement savings bill

Senators offer bipartisan retirement savings bill
© Greg Nash

Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight MORE (R-Ohio) and 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 (D-Md.) on Tuesday rolled out a bipartisan bill aimed at reforming the retirement system as lawmakers eye sweeping changes to the plans.

The bill from Portman and Cardin, both members of the Senate Finance Committee, includes a number of provisions in four areas: allowing people who haven't saved enough money to set more money aside for their retirement, making it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans, expanding access to retirement plans for low-income people and providing more flexibility for retirees.

"Ensuring that families and workers can retire with dignity and stability is an ongoing, and strongly bipartisan, effort," Cardin said in a statement. "There have been many recent efforts acknowledging this need, yet more work needs to be done to make sure families have the necessary tools to be successful in their retirement.”

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One of the measure's provisions would allow companies to make matching contributions to their employees' retirement plans if the employees are repaying student loans. That topic was also the subject of legislation that Cardin, Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices Hillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant MORE (D-Ore.) and other Democrats on the panel offered Monday.

Lawmakers have long had an interest in taking steps to strengthen the retirement system. Portman and Cardin also introduced a version of their bill last year. When they served in the House, the two worked together on retirement provisions that were enacted in 2001.

Retirement savings is an issue that has received increased attention in Congress in recent weeks, with lawmakers hoping it can be an area in which they can push through legislation despite a divided government.

"Since our last comprehensive package became law in 2001, we’ve seen more Americans participate in 401(k)s and IRAs to save for their retirement but our savings rate still remains too low and there are far too many Americans with no retirement account at all,” Portman said.

The Finance Committee held a hearing on Tuesday about the retirement system, and the House Budget Committee is holding a hearing on the issue on Wednesday.

Wyden and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBooker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-Iowa) introduced their own bipartisan retirement package last month. The House Ways and Means Committee has approved legislation that is similar to Wyden and Grassley's bill, and that bill may get a vote on the House floor in the near future.

Both Grassley and Wyden said at Tuesday's hearing that they hope their package can get enacted, praising other lawmakers for proposing ideas to help boost retirement savings.