Portman Delivers Opening Remarks at Senate Finance Committee Mark-up to Consider Cardin-Portman Retirement Savings Legislation

June 22, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) delivered the following opening remarks at a Senate Finance Committee markup of bipartisan retirement security legislation he authored with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). The Cardin-Portman legislation, Retirement Security and Savings Act (S.1770), would allow people to save more for retirement, help small businesses offer retirement plans, expand access for low-income Americans, and provide more certainty and flexibility during Americans’ retirement years, ensuring the opportunity for all to have a dignity in their retirement years. This is the senators’ fourth and final retirement savings legislation introduced together. Senator Portman pointed out that not only does the Cardin-Portman legislation have strong bipartisan support, but also bicameral support. In March, the House passed Neal-Brady legislation, Securing a Strong Retirement Act, by a vote of 414-5 – which has significant overlap with the Cardin-Portman bill.

A transcript of Senator Portman’s opening statement can be found below and the video can be found here.

“Well first, thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Crapo for both your willingness to work with Senator Cardin and myself to make this project possible, the next big step in retirement security and for your very helpful contributions to this effort. We wouldn’t be here without that. So many of our constituents are really concerned about their retirement. They just don’t see how they’re going to be able to make ends meet in retirement, and they’re right. The pandemic has made it a lot worse, people have not been able to save what they had hoped to be able to do, particularly lower-income Americans. And, rampant inflation now is making everything more expensive. I talked to some folks over the weekend who say, one guy said, ‘I used to put 20 percent away for my retirement, I can’t do that anymore because of the cost of gas and food.’ So, it’s tougher to save. So, in my view, this mark-up to help people be able to do that, save for their retirement, is particularly timely.

“Throughout my 24 years in Congress, dating myself, I’ve had an amazing partner on retirement security, and other issues, in Senator Ben Cardin, who spoke earlier. Together, we have enacted three significant retirement bills that were actually quite effective at helping to address the challenges in our retirement system, increasing peoples’ peace of mind in retirement. Since 2001, when we were both in the House and enacted our first bill to expand retirement savings, expanding 401Ks and IRAs and so on, retirement savings have increased by about 150 percent – from $11 trillion to about $28 trillion. Our work together has helped make that possible, and Ben it’s been great working with you.

“But there’s much more to do. As we look at this fourth and final Cardin-Portman bill, once again I see an opportunity to pass something that is sensible, middle ground, and bipartisan that can address the challenges we face today.

“We spent four years working on this one. We have talked to a lot of people on the outside – think tanks, providers, other stakeholders. We have focused on what are the impediments to expanding retirement savings, so working with people who tell us what the problems are and give us the data.

“This legislation is about developing new policies to address those specific concerns. First, helping more low-income and part-time workers save for retirement. Why is that important? Only about 22 percent of part-time workers as an example, about 23 percent of low-income workers, defined as 25 percent quartile and below, have any retirement plan. They aren’t engaged in a retirement plan and that’s a real issue for our country.

“Second, we have incentivized small businesses to get more engaged in plans. We’ve worked on that over the years, we’ve had some success. But, honestly, only 28 percent of businesses with fewer than 10 workers have a plan. We have to face that. Large businesses, by the way, pretty much all have good plans. They may not be great plans, but they’re good plans, they’re solid plans, whereas small business, for the most part, do not. So that’s why that’s so important.

“Third, encouraging baby boomers near retirement to accelerate their savings. There’s a lot of data out there on this, but, frankly, the baby boom generation, the generation of most of us around this table, just has not saved for their retirement adequately to the point that almost half of baby boomers have no net savings at all, much less retirement savings. So that’s why we do more to accelerate savings in these later years.

“And then, the fourth one we learned about over the years, is that as people are living longer and healthier lives, retirement savings don’t keep up so they outlive their retirement savings. So, that’s why we are helping, in this legislation, to ensure that those who have already retired have the savings they need to be able to live comfortably.

“So again, thanks to the Chair and Ranking Member for making the bill that Senator Cardin and I worked on the base vehicle for today’s markup, and thanks to all of my colleagues, because the proposals that are either part of the bill, I know for instance Senator Lankford has one in the bill, Senator Daines and others are going to add things to the bill, these all make the bill better and I appreciate their hard work on this.

“This bill is not just bipartisan, by the way, it is bicameral, which is a rare experience around here. In fact, 26 of the Cardin-Portman provisions were included in H.R. 2954, Securing a Strong Retirement Act, legislation introduced by the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, Richard Neal, and the Ranking Member, Kevin Brady. This bill has passed the House with a lot of momentum. It passed unanimously out of the House committee and then the full House approved it with a vote of 414-to-5. So, this is very bicameral and my hope is we can quickly work together to finalize a product.

“Last week, we saw the Senate HELP Committee pass its own retirement package by voice vote. It included nine of the Cardin-Portman provisions and I appreciate the fact that they’ve worked so closely with us. I’m looking forward to moving this package forward today, with a goal of then working with our House colleagues on a final House-Senate agreed-upon product and getting it signed into law before the Congress adjourns and I adjourn my career here in the United States Congress. Thanks again, Mr. Chairman.”