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David R.
Republican TN 1

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  • Insular Areas and Freely Associated States Energy Development

    by Representative David P. Roe

    Posted on 2014-12-11

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    ROE of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the multiemployer pension reform act contained in the underlying bill. This bipartisan legislation will strengthen and, in some cases, save retirement benefits for more than 10 million Americans who are enrolled in a multiemployer pension plan. Let's say that again: this legislation will save retirement benefits.

    While many multiemployer plans are in strong financial shape, the number of financially-distressed plans is a cause for great concern. Among these troubled plans is the Central States Pension Fund, covering 410,000 participants, which PBGC projects will become insolvent in the next 10 years.

    PBGC's own finances are in dire straits. A report released by the PBGC just last month shows that its multiemployer program has a deficit of more than $42 billion, an alltime high. The [[Page H9283]] agency also believes that there is a 90 percent chance it becomes insolvent by 2025 without change.

    Taken together, these financial challenges pose a clear and present danger to the retirement of those who receive those benefits from PBGC and those who expect the PBGC to serve as a backstop if their pension plan fails. It is not a question of if the worst will happen for some of these plans; it is only a question of when.

    The proposal before us today is a product of six subcommittee hearings over 4 years, countless hours of discussion and debate between management and labor, and thoughtful negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.

    This legislation will give pension plans the tools to save themselves without a taxpayer bailout. For those plans that are beyond repair, this proposal will strengthen the PBGC's finances to help ensure that retirees continue to receive a benefit.

    What we are asking of these plans is hard. If there were some other way to resolve this problem without a taxpayer bailout, we would have pursued it, but there is not another way. We have to do what is necessary to protect the retirement benefits for those Americans who earned them.

    Businesses and unions alike understand this. That is why the Kline- Miller proposal is supported by companies, including Kroger, Nestle USA, as well as labor unions, including the UFCW, SEIU, and North America's Building Trade Unions.

    I commend Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Miller for their tireless efforts on this issue. They have shown all of us that bipartisan compromise for the greater good is possible.

    {time} 1400 I also want to thank Ed Gilroy and Andy Banducci and the rest of the staff on both sides of the aisle for the long, hard hours they have logged on this effort.

    This desperately-needed pension reform is good for workers, it is good for retirees, it is good for business, and it is good for America.

    I encourage my colleagues to strongly support this.

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