Daschle Clears Way for Pension Funding Vote

April 7, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The pension funding bill winding its way through Congress got a boost in the United State Senate when the leading Democrat said he wouldn't block the measure from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.

With the pledge from Senator Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist told reporters he expected there would be a pension bill vote on Thursday, Reuters reported.

The bill would save U.S. companies over $80 billion in the next two years by temporarily changing a formula used to calculate pension fund contributions but would help only about 4% of pension plans that are sponsored by more than one employer.

Daschle said he was personally opposed to the measure, but would not use the Senate’s procedural rules to try to stop a vote on it.   “I intend to vote no,” Daschle told reporters in a Senate hallway, according to the Reuters report. “I believe that it’s a flawed bill because it doesn’t include the opportunities to address the crisis in multi-employer pensions. But we will allow the vote and let the chips fall where they may.”

The bill has already passed the House of Representatives. If the Senate approves it, it would go to President Bush for to be signed into law.

The bill would provide about $80 billion in pension accounting relief over two years for some 31,000 U.S. companies with traditional defined benefit pension plans operated by a single employer. There would also be $1.6 billion in extra aid for a handful of steel companies and major U.S. airlines, and help for 4% of the 1,600 pension plans sponsored by more than one employer.