By Emily Gilbert
On Tuesday, Karen Friedman, Katie Jonckheer (our new summer intern), and I were on Capitol Hill for a markup in the Education & Labor Committee in the House of Representatives. In a markup, a congressional committee votes on whether to approve proposed legislation. On Tuesday the Committee discussed three different bills, one of which was the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, also known as the Butch Lewis Act (H.R. 397).
We were happy that the Committee was marking up this bill, and excited to see Congress making progress on finding a comprehensive solution to the multiemployer crisis. As Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) said in his opening statement, “doing nothing to address this crisis is the worst and most expensive option we have.” It is important that Congress come together to help ensure that millions of retirees across the country receive the pension benefits they have earned.
This was Katie’s first day at PRC and her first time on Capitol Hill. After the markup I talked to Katie about her impressions of everything that happened, and she said, “I learned about the multiemployer crisis before the markup, but meeting the retirees that were in the audience helped me understand how important it is that Congress works together to find a solution.” She also was surprised the bill passed only on a party-line vote, because, she said, “this seems like it should be a bipartisan issue.”
We were all surprised at how “theatrical” the markup was, and at tactics that were seemingly designed to stall the vote (including requiring the bill to be read out loud in full!).
But in the end the Committee approved the bill. This clears one of the hurdles to final passage by the full House of Representatives. The next step is for the bill to be considered in the Ways & Means Committee.
We are always looking for stories from people who are facing benefit cuts. If you are in a multiemployer pension plan and have had your pension cut, or your plan has applied to the Treasury Department to begin cutting benefits, consider submitting your story to our Story Bank, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at (202) 296-3776.
Read our fact sheet on Multiemployer Reform