House Democrats had crafted their own proposed legislation to compete with the Senate’s stimulus proposal. The House version included the Butch Lewis Act to help those Critical and Declining multiemployer pension plans that are on the verge of collapse. Regrettably, the Senate version that passed last night does nothing to help the 1.4 million American workers and retirees in the roughly 125 C&D pension plans. Furthermore, given the devastating impact on pensions from collapsing equity markets and lower interest rates, there are likely to be many more multiemployer plans that now fall into the C&D bucket. Prior to the last month or so there were roughly 200 multiemployer plans that were in the Critical zone.
According to my contact on the front lines of this battle, there may in fact be another bill that specifically addresses the pension crisis. Let’s hope that is the case, as these plans have less time to be saved than they did just two months ago. While Congress tinkers, the fate for millions of retirees and near-retirees becomes more tenuous.