Chantel Sheaks Chantel Sheaks
Vice President, Retirement Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


July 19, 2019


If there’s one thing both parties can agree on these days, it’s that Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement. So, it’s encouraging that the House of Representatives recently put forward a solution by passing the SECURE Act with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 417-3. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to act, and it should act now.

The SECURE Act, formally called the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, includes a number of provisions that will go a long way towards giving Americans more tools to build retirement savings. A broad range of businesses, charities and trade associations support the SECURE Act, and here’s why.

  • Less than 50% of workers who work for small employers have access to an employer provided retirement plan. The SECURE Act helps.
  • Small employers need financial help in setting up employer provided retirement plans. The SECURE ACT helps.
  • Older, longer-service workers in frozen define benefit plans may have their benefits cut through no fault of their own. The SECURE Act helps.
  • Less than 35% of part-time employees have access to an employer provided retirement plan. The SECURE Act helps.   
  • Current law forces older Americans to start taking their retirement benefits, even if they are not ready to do so. The SECURE Act helps. 
  • Many plan sponsors may be reluctant to include prudently selected annuities in defined contribution plans because of litigation worries. The SECURE Act helps.
  • Automatically enrolling individuals at higher contributions rates increases retirement security. The SECURE Act helps.
  • Administrative burdens add costs to employer provided plans. The SECURE Act helps.
  • Plan sponsors of cooperatives and small employer charities face high premiums related to their defined benefit plans. The SECURE Act helps. 
  • Some community newspapers need to make their contributions to their defined benefits plans more manageable. The SECURE Act helps. 
  • Military families may face double taxation on certain survivor benefits. The SECURE Act helps.   

So, if the SECURE Act helps in fixing so many problems, why won’t the Senate act? Is the problem that these provisions are new concepts? No. The SECURE Act is a compilation of recent bipartisan and bicameral retirement legislation aimed at increasing coverage and easing administrative burdens. In fact, the basis of the SECURE Act is Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA), which was introduced in both the House and Senate in the current and past Congresses. In fact, RESA was introduced in the Senate in the 114th, 115th and 116th Congresses. In addition, the few provisions in the SECURE Act that were not in RESA were previously introduced in both the House and Senate by both sides of the aisle. 

Does the SECURE Act lack support? No. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the SECURE Act. The AARP supports the SECURE Act. The Military Officers Association of America and the Church Alliance support the SECURE Act. Numerous charities support the SECURE Act, such as The Girls Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts of America, the Christian Schools International, and the Jewish Federations of North America. Cooperatives that provide support for rural America back the SECURE Act, such as the National Rural Electric Cooperative and National Council on Farmer Cooperatives. As noted, even the House of Representatives supported the SECURE Act by a vote of 417 to 3.

In a time of deep political division, it is encouraging that Congress can still tackle important issues that really matter. It is time for the Senate to take this rare opportunity to act on a piece of bipartisan legislation that has been introduced three times in the Senate, is widely supported by a diverse group of trades, charities, cooperatives and businesses, and will benefit all Americans by helping them build a more secure retirement.

About the authors

Chantel Sheaks

Chantel Sheaks

Chantel Sheaks develops, promotes, and publicizes the Chamber’s policy on retirement plans, nonqualified deferred compensation, and Social Security.

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