May 06,2016

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515 

Wyden Relieved By Rejection of Proposed Pension Cuts By Treasury Department

Cuts Would Have Reduced Benefits By 70 Percent for Some; Wyden Called on Treasury to Reject Proposal Last Year

WASHINGTON Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today expressed relief following the Treasury Department’s decision to deny Central States Pension Fund’s application to cut retirees’ pensions.

“I’m very relieved by Treasury’s decision today to reject Central States Pension’s application to cut retirees’ pensions.” Wyden said. “Thousands of pensioners, including Rita Lewis who testified before this committee a few weeks ago, would have seen their earned benefits cut by up to 70 percent starting in July.

“Today’s decision proves that MPRA, which I opposed, was the wrong approach. However, there are no easy answers here and Congress needs to work harder on a bipartisan basis to develop other solutions.  We owe that to Rita Lewis and the many retirees whose pensions are at risk.”

In October 2015, Central States Pension Fund, which has 400,000 participants, applied for the suspension of benefits (i.e. benefit cuts) with the Treasury Department under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). Wyden opposed MPRA when it passed at the end of 2014, and he opposed Central States’ application when it was filed.

The Finance Committee also held a hearing on multiemployer pension plans in March 2016. Prior to the hearing, every Democratic member of the Finance Committee sent a letter calling for action to solve the multiemployer pension crisis so hard-working Americans can count of what they earned to give them a secure retirement. Senate Democrats, led by Wyden and Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Patty Murray, D-Wash., also wrote a letter in April raising questions about whether Central States’ application met the criteria for Treasury approval and pointing out the enormous stakes that retirees face.