"As a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), I have been working with my colleagues over the last several months to develop legislation that will shore up and protect our nation’s pension system for the long haul.

I know the retirement security of all American workers is of critical importance in these uncertain economic times. As I travel across Washington state, workers often ask me whether their pensions will be there for them when they retire. Retirees wonder how long their monthly checks will continue. In our state we have over 1.1 million active and retired workers who are, or will be receiving, a pension in the future.

The pension reform bill I supported today in the HELP Committee – the Defined Benefit Security Act – is a good first step in achieving all of our goals. It moves us toward making sure that when workers retire, the pension that has been promised to them by their employer will in fact be there for them. I remain concerned about the treatment of older workers, whose DB plans have been converted into cash balance plans, and I will work to ensure more equitable treatment in the final product that Congress approves.

Specifically, the bill passed by the Committee today will:

  • Improve pension plan funding;

  • Provide more predictable rules for companies;

  • Provide workers companies, and the public, with more timely and accurate information about the current financial condition of their pension plans;

  • Help to prevent future pension terminations;

  • Shore up multi-employer plans;

  • Provide new rules for conversions into hyrbrid cash balance plans; and

  • Clarify that retirement plans sponsored by tribal governments are in fact governmental plans and are entitled to the same tax treatment as other defined benefit pension plans.

Again, our work today is a good first step. In the coming weeks, the HELP Committee will be meeting with members of the Finance Committee to bring a consensus bill to the floor of the Senate.

I know that pensions, along with private savings and Social Security, are a critical component of American workers' retirement security. I am committed to making sure that the pension bill that reaches the President’s desk will ensure that the workers in Washington state will, in fact, receive the pensions they deserve and have worked so hard to earn."