Senators offer bipartisan retirement savings bill

Senators offer bipartisan retirement savings bill
© Greg Nash

Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFighting the opioid epidemic: Congress can't just pass laws, but must also push to enforce them The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems MORE (R-Ohio) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCan new US Strategy on Women, Peace & Security give women a real seat at the table? Ask Afghan women Maryland lawmakers slam 'despicable' Trump remark about journalists on newsroom shooting anniversary Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt 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 WydenDemocrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Top Democrat demands answers on election equipment vulnerabilities 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 GrassleyScandal in Puerto Rico threatens chance at statehood Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Democrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection 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.