Question 52: Do you know what the status of the proposed "Railroad Retirement and Spousal Benefit Improvement Act of 2000"?
Answer: It has now been introduced in the House of Repersentatives on July 14, 2000 and has been assigned the bill number 4844. It was favorably reported out by the Way & Means Committee on July 25,2000. On September 7, 2000, it was considered and passed by a vote of 391 to 25.
On September 28, 2000, it was approved on a voice vote by the Senate Finance Committee clearing the way for Senate approval in October before Congress adjourns. 78 of the 100 Senators are listed as co-sponsors. There have been some negative comments on the proposed legislation by GAO & the White House.
As of October 24, the full Senate has not considered the legislation. With adjournment near, the bill could still be passed this session but it's prospects are not as bright as they were in September.
As of October 30, the legislation is still pending in the Senate. Informed sources do not think it will pass this session & will have to be reintroduced next January. Key Senators opposed the legislation in it's present form and the conversion of the Tier 2 Trust Fund to a private pension trust presents a problem for the budget surplus in this election year.
NOTE: The legislation was reintroduced the first day of the 107th Congress. The most current versions are H.R. 1140 and S.697. There are 351 repersentatives & 58 senators cosponsoring the legislation.
On May 9, 2001, the House Subcommittee on Railroads of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee marked up H.R. 1140 & without opposition forwarded the bill to the full committee for consideration. The full committee is expected to hold a markup session on May 16, 2001.
On July 31,2001, H.R. 1140 passed the House of Repersentatives by a vote of 384 to 33. There were two last minute changes made in the legislation to ensure that the Office of Management and Budget would not oppose it. One change had to do with the way the investment tranfer would be "scored" for Federal budget purposes. The other changed the way the new trustees of the Tier 2 fund would be appointed. Labor & management, and not the RRB will appoint the members.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration after the August recess. Chances for final passage have improved following the overwhelming approval by the House & the agreements with the administration on "scoring" & appointment of trustees.
The Senate passed the legislation on December 5, 2001 by a vote of 90 to 9. The House of Repersentatives on december 11, passed the Senate version by a vote of 369-33. President Bush's signature is expected.
Keep watching this column for updates as they are received.