Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are considering a multibillion-dollar bailout for retirees who are members of certain collapsing pension plans, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The proposal, a draft of which was obtained by the Post, would require the Treasury Department to spend as much as $3 billion annually to subsidize payments for retirees enrolled in designated pensions.
The bailout is one of several proposals under consideration by a special congressional committee wrestling the pension crisis.
Lawmakers are also considering solutions such as new fees paid by union members and companies and higher premiums levied on pensions, according to the Post.
A congressional aide told The Hill that several proposals have been circulated among lawmakers and that they’re all components of the negotiations process.
The committee, led by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), is expected to propose a solution by Nov. 30.
“The hard-working men and women who are counting on this committee deserve a solution, and Chairman Hatch and I continue to negotiate with other members of the committee to reach a bipartisan agreement,” Brown said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for Hatch, Nicole Hager, told The Hill that “Joint Select Committee members are continuing to work in good faith to reach a bipartisan agreement before their Nov. 30 deadline.”
“Members understand that the longer the problems facing the multi-employer system are allowed to continue, the more challenging and expensive they are to solve,” she said. “Co-chairman Hatch has a long history of working across the aisle to reach bipartisan deals, including on pension issues, and he is hopeful that members will be able to reach an agreement to improve the long term sustainability of the multi-employer pension system while looking out for the needs of workers and retirees and ensuring that taxpayers are protected.”
The programs in question collect money from workers at more than one and company and put those funds toward the same retirement benefit program. However, many of the plans do not have enough funding to cover some of the promised benefits.
The Post reported that the companies the pensioners used to work no longer exist or stopped participating in the pension programs.
According to the Post, White House officials were briefed on the status of the talks, but have not said if they would support the deal if it is finalized.
A Treasury Department spokesman did not provide comment to the Post.
The Treasury Department and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
Source: The Hill