Government Affairs Update

May 3, 2021

TOP NEWS

Ways and Means Committee to Markup “SECURE Act 2.0”

The House Committee on Ways and Means has scheduled a markup to debate and amend the provisions contained in the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021. The bill, introduced by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX), contains bipartisan, common-sense measures to help American retirement savers take another step forward on the path to financial security in retirement. The Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021 contains numerous provisions which were included in IRI’s 2021 Federal Retirement Security Blueprint. These include increasing the age at which required minimum distributions (RMDs) must be taken, elimination of barriers to allow for greater use of qualifying longevity annuity contracts (QLACs), expanding savings opportunities to the employees of non-profits, and a clarification of the applicability period during which small businesses which join a pooled employer plan (PEP) are eligible for a start-up credit. Additionally, the bill contains provisions increasing catch-up contributions for Baby Boomers, helping those with student loan debt save for retirement while paying off their loans, and offering military spouses opportunities to save for retirement while employed at a small business.

The markup is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. ET on May 5. IRI will monitor the markup and provide an update.

Following the markup, IRI will be conducting outreach to Members of Congress to educate them on the opportunities the bill offers to help our nation’s workers and retirees strengthen and enhance their retirement security in the coming weeks to encourage Congress to pass the bill.

Any questions should be referred to Paul Richman or John Jennings.

NY Regulation 187 Overturned in Court

Last week, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court issued a ruling that struck down the Department of Financial Services (DFS) 2018 amendments to Regulation 187. The amendments, which apply suitability and best interest standards to annuity and life insurance recommendations, were found to be unconstitutionally vague. DFS has thirty days to appeal the decision to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, and we fully expect they will do so. In addition, we expect DFS to request a stay to allow the regulation to remain in effect pending the outcome of the appeal, and the court will almost certainly grant that request. Our understanding is that the appeals process could take 12-15 months to complete.

With this in mind, we would strongly recommend that all IRI member companies resist the temptation to make any changes to their policies and procedures based on this ruling. The Court of Appeals could very well reverse this decision. Even if the decision is upheld, we believe DFS and/or the state legislature would seek to restore all or some portion of the regulation through new legislation or rulemaking. We will keep you apprised as further developments occur in this case.

Any questions should be referred to Jason Berkowitz.

LEGISLATIVE NEWS

Biden First Address to Congress, IRI Calls for Improvements to “Retirement Infrastructure”

Last week, President Biden called for a “once-in-a-generation” investment of federal dollars to rebuild the United States’ economy following the COVID-19 pandemic during his address to a joint session of Congress. In his speech, the President highlighted the significant investments he is proposing to make in the nation’s infrastructure through his $2 trillion-dollar-plus American Jobs Plan and in the nation’s social safety net with his nearly $2 trillion-dollar American Families Plan.  While the American Jobs Plan would expand educational opportunities and provide paid family and medical leave, it does not include any measures to strengthen and enhance retirement security for workers, retirees and their families. Following the address, IRI sent a letter to the President, the Secretaries of Treasury and Labor, and Congressional leaders and issued a press release calling for the consideration of measures from IRI’s 2021 Federal Retirement Security Blueprint to be included in the American Families Plan. The thirteen additional proposals IRI calls for including in the Plan would help American workers, retirees, and their families build economic equity, strengthen their financial security, and protect their income in a way that can sustain them throughout their retirement years. 

As the negotiations get underway on the President’s proposals, IRI plans to meet with representatives of the Biden Administration and members of Congress to follow up on the proposals contained in our letter.  

Any questions should be referred to Paul Richman.

Senator Wyden Introduces Bill Enabling Student Debt Holders to Save for Retirement

Last week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Retirement Parity for Student Loans Act to help Americans save for retirement as they repay their student loans. The bill would enable employers to make “matching” contributions into a retirement plan based on their employees’ student loan payments. In a press statement, Sen. Wyden said, “Right now, generations of Americans are struggling under the crushing burden of student debt. They are putting off buying a home, having children and saving for retirement to pay down their student loans […] While I support student debt forgiveness, it’s important to put every option on the table to relieve this burden for millions of Americans. This bill is an important tool in the tool box.”  IRI’s 2021 Federal Retirement Security Blueprint called for the adoption of the Retirement Parity for Student Loans Act, and IRI will be issuing a letter of support to Sen. Wyden.

Any questions should be referred to John Jennings.

IRI NEWS

IRI, Fellow Trades Hosting “Retirement 101” Hill Staff Education Event

On May 4 at 2:00 p.m. ET, IRI, along with the American Benefits Council, Davis & Harman LLP, Finseca, and the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors (NAIFA), is hosting “Retirement 101: What Congress can do to Strengthen Retirement Security” to educate congressional staff new to or needing a refresher on this important policy area. In addition, the panel will provide an overview of the defined contribution retirement system, what challenges and opportunities exist for retirement savers and plan providers, and what steps Congress can take to reduce retirement anxiety.