September 25,2000

Committee to Markup Railroad Retirement Legislation

Legislation Would Modernize Rail Retirement Program

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today announced that the Committee will mark up H.R. 4844, the "Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2000" on Wednesday, September 27 prior to the mark up of the Community Renewal Act.

"Congress has the opportunity to finish an important piece of legislation before going home, H.R. 4844, the 'Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2000," Roth stated.

"Since 1935, the Railroad Retirement program has delivered a secure pension to millions of Railroad retirees and their families, to families that have lost a breadwinner, and to workers with disabilities and their families. The Railroad Retirement program is wholly unique, in effect a multi-employer pension plan located in the Federal government," Roth stated. "I support this legislation, and will work for its prompt Committee action and full Senate approval."

Background: Earlier this year Rail labor and management hammered out an agreement to modernize Railroad Retirement financing and benefits. Under the supervision of Rail management and labor, a new private investment trust will open new investment opportunities for the Railroad Retirement pension funds similar to those enjoyed by other multi-employer pension programs. In order to ensure Railroad Retirement's financial soundness, Rail companies agreed to guarantee the future solvency of the program. This legislation would provide better benefits to widows, restore retirement at age 60, and provide vesting in 5 rather than 10 years.

Earlier this month, H.R. 4844, passed the House by an overwhelming majority, 391-25, which embodies this agreement.