The House of Representatives has passed the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act (H.R. 397), introduced in January 2019 by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). The bill passed by a 264-169 margin, with most of its support coming from Democrats. A Senate companion bill has been introduced by lead sponsor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
The legislation—also known as the Butch Lewis Act—is intended to address issues of insolvency common to a significant number of multiemployer (union) defined benefit pension plans. The bill as proposed would do the following.
- Establish a Pension Rehabilitation Administration within the Treasury Department, and a related trust fund to make loans to certain union pension plans that are in critical-and-declining status, or insolvent
- Enable the Treasury Department to issue bonds to fund the loans described above
- Appropriate to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) funds for additional assistance that some plans could qualify for beyond the above-described loans
Passage in the Republican-controlled Senate—where it is being called a bailout for badly managed pension plans—is considered unlikely.