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Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Representing the 12th District of Michigan

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Dingell Introduces Legislation to Protect Pensions Michigan Workers have Earned

January 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) today joined colleagues in introducing the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, also known as the Butch Lewis Act, which ensures multi-employer pension plans remain solvent and continue providing retirees and workers the retirement benefits they have earned. Dingell has been fighting against proposed cuts to retiree pensions since the Central States Pension Fund threatened to cut retiree benefits by as much as 70 percent, impacting 273,000 current and future retirees, including an estimated 43,500 Michigan members.

“Hard-working men and women have worked a lifetime thinking the pension they paid into would be there for them in retirement,” said Dingell. “This is the money they counted on to retire with dignity and security – to afford to stay in their homes and afford their medicine – and we must do everything we can to ensure they have the benefits they have earned. While it’s disappointing that the Pension Select Committee could not reach an agreement last year, our commitment to protecting pensions will not waver. This bipartisan legislation will bring relief to the tens of thousands of workers and retirees whose lives have been turned upside down by proposed cuts to their pensions. We need to address this crisis by shoring up multiemployer pension plans without taking a single penny from the retirement these workers were promised, and I am hopeful that we can advance it through the Congress as soon as possible. American workers have done their part, now it’s time for Congress to do ours.”

Some of the nation’s largest multiemployer pension plans, including the Central States Pension Fund, are on the verge of collapse because they don’t have enough money to pay promised pensions to retirees and workers. The Rehab Act would ensure that all promised benefits are paid by creating a new office within the U.S. Treasury Department called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA). The PRA would issue bonds backed by the U.S. Treasury to finance loans to distressed pension plans so they can remain solvent and continue providing retirement security for retirees and workers for decades to come.

The lead sponsors of the legislation in the House are Reps. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Peter King (R-NY), cosponsors are Reps. Dingell, Chris Smith (R-NJ), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Don Young (R-AK), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), John Katko (R-NY), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).

Dingell has been fighting against proposed cuts to retiree pensions since coming to Congress. In 2018, she was appointed by then-Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Plans. Dingell led a bipartisan coalition of 89 House colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department urging the rejection of the application by Central States. Since the application was rejected in May 2016, Dingell and her colleagues have been working with all stakeholders to find a solution that will shore up multiemployer pension plans without placing an undue burden on workers and retirees.

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