As you may have heard or read, the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee has passed H.R. 397 (July 10th) joining the Education and Labor Committee that voted to support this proposed legislation in June. A third committee, Appropriations, will soon begin their review prior to a vote. As a reminder, H.R. 397 is basically the Butch Lewis Act that was first introduced in November 2017, but not approved.
Unfortunately, the votes have followed party lines with Democrats supporting the proposal to provide low-interest rate loans to multiemployer plans deemed to be in Critical and Declining status, while Republicans continue to treat the legislation as nothing more than a bailout. If the legislation passes through the Appropriations Committee it will then be brought to the House for a full vote.
It has been assumed by most that the House, under Democrat control, would pass this legislation. The significant challenge/hurdle will be getting the Senate to follow suit. At present there are no competing bills to help struggling multiemployer plans survive, but rumors persist that the Republicans are preparing a bill that will strengthen the PBGC with greater oversight and finances. Of course, time will tell, but we don’t currently have the luxury of time! Something needs to be done in this Congressional session or we will begin to see the significant damage that delay has inflicted.