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Top Democrat: Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year

Top Democrat: Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year
© Bonnie Cash

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats adjust language on child tax credit in relief bill Democrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda MORE (D-Mass.) said Thursday that Congress could pass legislation to help people save for retirement as soon as this year.

"I think retirement savings is going to be very, very important going forward," Neal said at a virtual event hosted by The Hill. He added that the next round of retirement legislation could be passed "in a lame-duck session or certainly very early next year."

Neal and Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyBiden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda New CDC guidance ends up deepening debate over reopening schools McCarthy seeks shift from party's civil war MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, last month introduced bipartisan legislation with a host of provisions aimed at helping people save for retirement. The new bill builds on bipartisan retirement legislation that was enacted last year, and similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo MORE (R-Ohio) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinLiberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Senate strikes deal, bypassing calling impeachment witnesses Senators, impeachment teams scramble to cut deal on witnesses MORE (D-Md.).

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Congressional observers think it could be challenging for lawmakers to pass retirement legislation in the lame-duck session, given the need to pass a bill to prevent a government shutdown during that period. But lobbyists and other tax experts think a retirement bill could pass in 2021 even if there is a divided Congress.

Neal noted that the retirement bill enacted last year had overwhelming bipartisan support in the House. He highlighted a provision in his new bill with Brady that would raise the age for required minimum distributions from retirement plans from 72 to 75, as people are working and living longer. 

Neal also said he was planning to continue to push a separate proposal of his to create automatic payroll deduction Individual Retirement Accounts (auto IRAs). Republicans have been critical of this idea in the past, but President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE has expressed support for it.

"I intend to use the next two years to further enhance retirement savings, making better use of automatic enrollment, and trying very hard to pass my auto IRA bill," Neal told The Hill's Steve Clemons.

The Hill's event was sponsored by AARP.