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Last Minute Changes Could Shake SECURE Act Support

Changes that don’t have anything to do with retirement might undermine bipartisan support for retirement security legislation.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) late last month had announced that the House planned to take up the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019 (H.R. 1994) during May, but last-minute amendments could change the timing of that vote as well as the overall vote count.

At issue is a provision that would allow the expansion of Section 529 accounts to be used for home schooling costs and supplies for students in grades K-12. This provision is supported by House Republicans but opposed by various teachers’ groups, according to various news reports. 

As such, the House Rules Committee is planning to consider a manager’s amendment on May 20 that would remove those provisions from the bill, which was approved by the House Ways & Means Committee on April 2. (A summary of the manager's amendment can be found here.)

The manager’s amendment would also fix a glitch from the 2017 tax law by reducing taxes levied on military survivor benefits and certain other payments received by children and modify the penalties for failure to file returns. 

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the ranking Republican on the Ways & Means Committee, reportedly expressed displeasure with the forthcoming removal of these 529 expansions, saying it would “lower bipartisan support for the package we reached in good faith.”

It’s still possible the House will vote on the package before leaving for the Memorial Day recess, but those developments might undermine the breadth of the anticipated bipartisan support for the popular retirement plan provisions. 

Once H.R. 1994 is eventually approved by the House, it will be sent to the Senate, where it will be referred to the Finance Committee – which appears to be ready and eager to take up the measure. At a May 14 hearing, the Committee’s Chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), expressed hope that the House would move quickly to approve its version of the legislation so that it can be reconciled and sent to the president. 

NOTE: It’s not too late to tell your representatives in Congress of your support for the retirement enhancements in the SECURE Act. Check it out at https://araadvocacy.org/issues/secure-act/#/18.