American Benefits Council
Benefits Byte


December 15, 2014

The Benefits Byte is the American Benefits Council’s regular e-mail and online newsletter for members only, providing timely reports on legislative, regulatory and judicial developments, along with updates on the Council’s activities in support of employer-sponsored benefit plans.

The Benefits Byte is published by the American Benefits Council, based on staff reports and edited by Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications. Contact information for Council staff related to specific topics can be found at the end of each story.

Click here to read past issues on the Benefits Byte Archive page.

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Senate Approves $1.1 Trillion Spending Package, Including Benefits Provisions; Tax Extenders Awaiting Final Approval

On December 13, the U.S. Senate passed the $1.1 trillion spending package, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 83), by a bipartisan vote of 56 to 40. A combination of a continuing resolution (CR) and an omnibus spending bill, H.R. 83 extends 11 of 12 appropriations measures through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2015), with the Homeland Security Department appropriations measure extended only until February 27, 2015. President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly.

The package includes several provisions affecting employee benefit plans, including Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) enforcement of ERISA Section 4062(e) “shutdown” rules, multiemployer pensions, normal retirement age and clarification of expatriate health plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). (For more information, see the December 10 and December 12 Benefits Bytes.)

Because the pension provisions were the subject of a great deal of controversy and effort over the past several years, the Council released a statement on December 14, applauding the bipartisan action on Section 4062(e) and multiemployer pension provisions in H.R. 83. “For the past few years, in direct meetings with the PBGC and several federal agencies – and in letters to key members of Congress and the PBGC board of directors – we have pointed out that enforcement of ERISA Section 4062(e) demonstrated a fundamental misinterpretation of the law,” Council President James Klein said. “Both of these measures will help protect pension plans and millions of Americans who rely upon them for their retirement income security.”

The House of Representatives has adjourned for the year but the Senate remains in session. The Senate is expected to approve a package of tax law extensions (or “tax extenders”) before completing its work for the year. The tax extenders package includes a number of provisions relating to employee benefits (see the December 3 Benefits Byte).

For more information, contact Diann Howland, vice president, legislative affairs, 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.

Notice: the information contained herein is general in nature. It is not, and should not be construed as, accounting, consulting, legal or tax advice or opinion provided by the American Benefits Council or any of its employees. As required by the IRS, we inform you that any information contained herein was not intended or written to be used or referred to, and cannot be used or referred to (i) for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein (and any attachment).