BENEFITS BYTE UPDATE

September 21, 2004
BB 04—93

UPDATE: House Approves Sanders Cash Balance Amendment to Appropriations Bill by 237-162 vote

On September 15, the House of Representatives approved by a 237-162 vote to approve the appropriations amendment by Representative Bernard Sanders (I-VT) that could prolong the U.S. Treasury Department's stalemate over the treatment of cash balance pension plans. The measure, attached to the Treasury-Transportation Appropriations bill (H.R. 2025), seeks to withhold any funding to the Treasury Department "used to assist in overturning the judicial ruling" in the case of Cooper v. IBM. This recorded vote supercedes the earlier voice vote.

Rep. Sanders was able to insert a similar amendment during the 2003 appropriations process, approved then by a vote of 258-160.

As we have long reported, in the case of Cooper v. IBM the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois ruled that the IBM cash balance plan violated the age discrimination provisions of ERISA by design, throwing all hybrid plans into legal uncertainty. This ruling remains contrary to the legislative history of ERISA and most legal precedent.

The Council will now turn its attention to the Senate in an effort to prevent a similar amendment from being approved in that body. For more information, contact Diann Howland, Council vice president, retirement policy, at (202) 289-6700.

###

The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council’s members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.