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Senators Call for Creation of Federal Retirement Commission

Bipartisan legislation to create a new federal commission that would study and recommend ways to improve Americans’ retirement security has been reintroduced in the Senate.

The Federal Retirement Commission Act, reintroduced May 14 by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), would charge the commission with reviewing private retirement benefit programs and submitting a report to Congress on how to improve private retirement security. The commission would not be responsible for reviewing the Social Security program.

“With many individuals reaching retirement with little to no savings of their own, we must take a serious look at our current retirement programs and make the changes necessary to help secure the futures of so many hardworking Americans,” says Young, who joined the Senate Finance Committee at the start of this Congress. 

In further citing a need for the legislation, the senators point to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report recommending the creation of an independent panel of experts to assess the current system and make recommendations to improve the nation’s collective retirement security. 

The senators note that it has been 40 years since a federal commission has conducted a survey of this scope. Here, they apparently are referring to the President’s Commission on Pension Policy, which President Jimmy Carter established by executive order in 1979 to conduct a two-year study of the U.S. pension system and the future of the nation’s retirement income policies.

The commission would be comprised of the Secretaries of Treasury, Labor and Commerce, two presidential appointees, six U.S. Senate appointees and six U.S. House of Representatives appointees.

These members would be charged with doing a comprehensive review of: 

  • private benefit programs in the U.S., with a focus on moving from DB to DC models;
  • private retirement coverage, individual and household accounts balances, investment trends, costs and net returns, and retention and distribution during retirement;
  • societal trends – including wage and economic growth, small business challenges, gig economy and health care costs – that could lead future generations to be less financially secure in retirement; and 
  • other countries’ retirement programs.

Following completion of the review and an affirmative vote of at least 3?4 of its members, the commission will submit recommendations on how to improve or replace existing private retirement programs.