A Senate budget deal announced Wednesday calls for creation of a congressional panel to find ways to keep more than 1 million union retirees and workers from losing big parts of their pensions.
This falls short of hopes by Teamsters and Ironworkers pushing for the Butch Lewis Act, a proposal by Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. The act is named for a Cincinnati-area retiree and Purple Heart, Vietnam War veteran who died of a stroke after learning his pension plan might make dramatic cuts. The act called for the issuance of government bonds that could provide a financial cushion to union pension plans as they recovered financially and, Brown said, repaid the government.
But the Butch Lewis Act was unlikely to gain much Republican support because of cost estimates and the bill's proposal to create a new agency to issue the bonds. Republicans don't like the idea of an expanded government, and some said they don't want more federal bailouts. The Congressional Budget Office did not issue a cost estimate but Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump's budget director, recently said he thought the plan by Brown and other Democrats could cost $60 billion. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said the cost could exceed $100 billion.
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