Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, commonly known as "The Butch Lewis Act." This legislation protects the hard-earned retirement benefits of workers by boosting financially-troubled multiemployer pension plans, including the Central State Pension Fund that largely covers Michigan workers, so they do not fail. Congressman Kildee was a co-sponsor of H.R. 397 and recently also voted in favor of passing the legislation out of the Ways and Means Committee.
Multiemployer pensions, plans in which workers have paid into throughout their employment, are in jeopardy unless Congress acts. Through no fault of workers, a significant number of these plans have funding problems, and many of them are at great risk of becoming insolvent. It is estimated that 1.3 million retirees could face retirement benefits cuts by as much as 70 percent, impacting tens of thousands of workers in Michigan.
"Every American worker who works hard and plays by the rules deserves to retire with dignity. That includes having their pension protected that they paid into their entire life," Congressman Kildee said. "I am pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives has acted to ensure workers can count on their pensions they have earned. I will continue to fight so that all Americans are able to retire with dignity."
The Butch Lewis Act would create a new office within the U.S. Treasury Department, called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA), that would allow for some multiemployer pension plans that are in danger of becoming insolvent to be given low-interest, 30-year loans to protect retiree benefits and allow trustees time to improve a pension's financial security. These loans will allow multiemployer pension plans to remain solvent, grow their assets, and pay promised benefits. Ultimately, this bill ensures that workers across the country receive the pensions that have been promised to them.
Currently, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)'s multiemployer pension program is on track to run out of money by FY 2025 and currently has a deficit of $54 billion. This bill will protect the earned benefits of retirees, ensuring they do not see a benefit cut of up to 90 percent.
The passage of the Butch Lewis Act today in the House is the latest action by the new Democratic majority to make Congress work for the people. In recent weeks the House passed other key pieces of legislation that awaits action in the U.S. Senate, including:
H.R. 1, the For the People Act, to expand voting rights for Americans, reduce the dominance of big money in politics, and ensure that public officials work for the people, not special interests.
H.R. 8, Bipartisan Background Checks Act, long-overdue gun violence prevention legislation that requires background checks for gun sales and transfers to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and bad actors.
H.R. 7, the Pay Check Fairness Act, which strengthens and closes loopholes in existing law, including the 1963 Equal Pay Act, to help ensure that women and men get paid the same if they are doing the same work.
H.J. Res 46, a privileged resolution to terminate President Trump's national emergency declaration to illegally fund his border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
H.R. 1585, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which seeks to end instances of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking by improving law enforcement response to violence and funding local programs to support victims.
H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act, which restores net neutrality protections, ensuring that the internet is open to all Americans and free from interference.
H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, which requires the Trump Administration to remain in the Paris Climate Accord, a global effort to combat climate change and its impacts.
H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, which helps to protect families from predatory junk insurance plans that do not offer comprehensive health care coverage, including coverage for pre-existing conditions.
H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, which would help to rein in the soaring costs of health care and prescription drugs.
H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which would ensure that all Americans--including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans--would be protected from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
H.R. 1994, the SECURE Act, which makes it easier for workers to save for retirement and invests in apprenticeship programs that help people get the training and skills they need for high-wage jobs.
H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, which provides a path to lawful permanent resident status, and eventual citizenship, for DREAMers and those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
H.R. 2722, the SAFE Act, which strengthens America's election infrastructure and protects voters from potential hacking and manipulation of votes.
H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the paychecks of all American workers by gradually increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.