Brown Secures Commitment from Administration to Help Solve Pension Crisis

Senator Secured Creation of Bipartisan Select Committee on Pensions in Budget Compromise

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) this week secured a commitment from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to work with Congress and the newly created Joint Select Committee on Pensions to help solve the pension crisis facing more than 60,000 Ohioans and 1.5 retirees and workers nationwide.

Brown has been fighting for a solution to the pension crisis for years and introduced the Butch Lewis Act, named for a retired Ohio Teamster from West Chester, Ohio, who passed away while fighting against cuts to the retirement he and his fellow workers earned and were promised. Earlier this month as part of the budget deal, Brown helped secure the creation of a bipartisan, House and Senate Joint Committee tasked with solving the pension crisis. The solution the Committee reports will be guaranteed an expedited vote on the Senate floor.

During a Finance hearing this week, Brown asked Mnuchin if the Administration would provide the Committee with the technical support it needs to be successful.

“I have introduced a bill with my Democratic colleagues to address the problem. We need all sides to bring their ideas to the table. That is why the Joint Select Committee on Pension Reform is now law, and why it’s so important. The Committee will force congress to treat the pension crisis with the seriousness and urgency American workers deserve,” said Brown. “The Committee needs the Administration’s help to be successful. We sometimes disagree on things, but I think this is an area we can both agree something must be done. Would you commit that Treasury and the Administration will provide the technical support and expertise needed for this Committee to succeed?”

Mnuchin responded, “Yes I will. It’s an important issue and we look forward to working with you. We are pleased to provide technical help and any policy work you need from us.”

Numerous Ohio pension plans, including the massive Central States Teamsters Pension Plan, the United Mine Workers Pension Plan, the Ironworkers Local 17 Pension Plan, the Ohio Southwest Carpenters Pension Plan and the Bakers and Confectioners Pension Plan are currently on the brink of failure. If nothing is done to the plans, they will fail and retirees will face massive cuts to the benefits they earned over decades of work.

If the plans are allowed to fail, not only will they no longer be able to pay promised benefits, but taxpayers would be at risk of having to pay billions because the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) would be on the hook for billions of dollars it cannot pay. PBGC is the arm of the federal government that insures pension plans. 

Details on the Joint-Select Committee to Solve the Pensions Crisis:

  • The Committee will be made up of 16 members to be appointed by House and Senate leaders. The members will include eight Senators and eight House members, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.
  • The Committee has instructions to report a bill to solve the pension crisis by the final week of November.
  • If at least 10 members agree compromise, the solution the Committee produces will be guaranteed an expedited vote on Senate floor with no amendments.
  • The Committee will be required to hold at least five public meetings, including the option of a field hearing outside of D.C. for the Committee to hear directly from retirees, workers and businesses affected by the pension crisis.