December 15, 2014
- Senate Approves $1.1 Trillion Spending Package, Including Benefits Provisions; Tax Extenders Awaiting Final Approval
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.