Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and other top Senate tax writers are calling for Senate action on the bipartisan Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Secure bill (HR 1994) (SECURE Act). The House-approved, bipartisan retirement savings bill has remained stalled in the Senate since May.

SECURE Act’s Route to Senate Floor Remains Unclear

Grassley’s communications director Michael Zona told Wolters Kluwer on October 21 that it remains “unclear at this point” whether the SECURE Act will move through committee, reach the Senate floor by unanimous consent, or be attached to a larger, year-end tax package. “Grassley supports the House-passed SECURE Act. There are several holds on the bill, and he is working to get them lifted,” Zona said.

The SECURE Act cleared the House on May 23 by a 417-to-3 vote. The bipartisan measure, which proposes sweeping changes to retirement savings tax policy, was originally expected to quickly clear the Senate after its approval in the House. However, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., blocked the bill from reaching the Senate floor. Cruz blocked the bill in protest of House Democrats’ 11th hour-removal of a provision from the original bill that would have expanded tax-advantaged Section 529 education savings plans to include homeschooling and certain elementary and secondary expenses. Cruz and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., are reportedly still holding up the measure from reaching the Senate floor.

Catch-All Tax Package

However, the SECURE Act, among other bipartisan tax-related items including tax extenders, could be attached to a catch-all tax package that is expected on Capitol Hill to hitch a ride on a year-end government funding bill. A “must-pass” appropriations bill, like the one currently being negotiated to keep the government open after funding expires on November 21, could serve as the tax package’s legislative vehicle, thus fast tracking its approval.

“As the economy continues to change, the way we approach retirement savings must change as well. Otherwise, too many Americans will be left behind,” Grassley said on October 21, noting that the SECURE Act is under “active consideration.”

Similar to Grassley’s push, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., led a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urging immediate Senate consideration of the SECURE Act. “This bipartisan legislation would expand access to retirement plans for millions of Americans, allow older workers and retirees to contribute more to their retirement accounts, increase 401(k) coverage to part-time employees, prevent as many as 4 million people in private-sector pension plans from losing future benefits, protect 1,400 religiously affiliated organizations whose access to their defined contribution retirement plans is in jeopardy, and do the right thing for Gold Star families,” according to Scott.