Norcross on House-Passed ‘Butch Lewis Act’ that Helps Retirees by Addressing the Multiemployer Pensions Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross, a leader on retirement security in Congress, cheered the bipartisan House passage of H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act. The Act – commonly called “The Butch Lewis Act” – addresses the nation’s worsening multiemployer pension crisis and Norcross called for his colleagues to support workers ahead of the vote.
A transcript of Norcross’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, follows:
“Thank you, M. Speaker. I rise today to urge all of my colleagues to support the Butch Lewis Act – a bill that makes sure hardworking Americans have secure retirements.
“I’ve been talking about pensions for decades and it seems some of my friends on the other side of the aisle seem to be forgetting that pensions are not handouts. Pensions are deferred wages that are relied upon and they allow people to pay their bills and put food on the table.
“I know that firsthand. I was an IBEW electrician and I participated in the multiemployer pension system for 37 years – as both a rank-and-file worker and a negotiator. My first Floor speech in Congress was on pensions, and the night before the speech, I received my first check. I know how workers feel and I know that there is too high a cost to do nothing.
“There are around two million Americans with pension plans in critical and declining status and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) could become insolvent as soon as 2025.
“Plans were set up to fail because of bankruptcy laws that favor owners and investors over workers and it’s up to us to make sure workers aren’t screwed. We must swiftly pass the Butch Lewis Act to stabilize the system.
“During the Great Recession, when help was needed, Congress was there for the auto industry and the banks. M. Speaker, today, we need to be there for the millions of workers who followed the rules, did their part and earned their pensions by passing the Butch Lewis Act. If we could save the banks, we can save the people. Thank you; I yield my time.”
About the Butch Lewis Act
The Butch Lewis Act prevents the imminent catastrophic collapse of the multiemployer pension crisis while protecting retirees’ benefits and saving taxpayers billions of dollars. Specifically, it:
- Creates a new office within the Department of Treasury called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA).
- Enables the PRA to provide eligible plans 30-year loans.
Norcross joined Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (MA-01) and eight bipartisan colleagues in introducing the Butch Lewis Act earlier this year.
Endorsing organizations include AARP, the Bakery and Confectionary Union and Industry BlackRock, BNY Mellon, the International Pension Fund, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), John Hancock, the National Retirees Legislative Network (NLRN), the Pension Rights Center, PNC Financial Services Group, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust.
- Norcross voted in favor of H.R. 397 in the House Committee on Education and Labor on June 11, 2019.
- Norcross wrote about retirement insecurity in an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer on January 23, 2019 and said that in the 116th Congress “we have a new opportunity to prevent terms like “senior poverty” from becoming the norm.”
- Norcross and nine bipartisan colleagues introduced The Butch Lewis Act on January 9, 2019.
- Norcross vowed to continue fighting to solve the retirement security crisis on November 29, 2019.
- Norcross was appointed to serve on the Joint Select Committee on Multiemployer pensions on February 23, 2018.