Senators offer bipartisan retirement savings bill

Senators offer bipartisan retirement savings bill
© Greg Nash

Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Ohio) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections Congress passes bill to begin scenic byways renaissance GOP lawmaker: 'Dangerous' abuse of Interpol by Russia, China, Venezuela 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 WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Trump: 'Great to see' Pelosi plan to lower drug prices Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices 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 GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Trump: 'Great to see' Pelosi plan to lower drug prices Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices 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.