Congress Inches Toward Retirement Legislation

Apr 12, 2019 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

In 2006, Congress passed the Pension Protection Act, which, among other provisions, encouraged 401(k) plan sponsors to offer automated-enrollment programs and expanded the use of target-date funds. Since that bill’s passage, though, Congress has effectively ignored retirement issues. At long last, that is changing.

The House of Representatives recently passed a bipartisan bill out of the Ways and Means Committee. The Senate followed suit, releasing a similar proposal from its Committee on Finance, co-sponsored by Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Ron Wyden. With the House and Senate operating in unison and prominent members of both parties in support, passage seems likely.

The main features for the House bill, which is titled “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019” (aka the SECURE Act) are:

  • Embracing annuities
  • Strengthening automatic enrollment
  • Extending IRA ages
  • Opening multiple employer plans

While there are some differences between the House and the Senate bills, there are in large part very similar. Changes to the ages for IRAs are likely to be paid for by eliminating stretch IRAs for beneficiaries.

Here is a Morningstar column about the bills. The Wall Street Journal also has a good description of the House bill and the Senate bill.


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