WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — After years of debate, the U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a plan to save the pensions of roughly 1.3 million Americans who are facing cuts in their benefits of up to 70%.
The Butch Lewis Act creates a loan program to help failing multi-employer pension plans to meet its commitments.
The plan is designed to help people, like Bob Amsden of Wisconsin Teamsters.
“We’re at the end of our life, let us live it out in dignity,” Amsden said. “Some of these people are in their 90s. This is the most egregious attack I’ve ever seen on the elderly people in my life.”
Four years ago, he found out the pension benefits he spent his career working for are at risk.
“These aren’t lavish luxurious pensions. These are dignity pensions,” Amsden said. “The average pension in central states is $1,230 a month. So, you’re going to take 70% of that and tell them to go live their lives?”
After years of lobbying for help, House Democrats passed a plan that sets aside billions of taxpayer dollars to save struggling pension funds.
However, most House Republicans opposed the measure.
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert says the plan will collapse and leave taxpayers with a bigger problem down the road.
“If you do the math here, we’re not doing a lifeboat. We’re putting a little life preserver out when we need a big lifeboat,” Schweikert, a Republican from Arizona, said.
The bill now heads to the Senate.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin says Republicans need to get onboard or present their own solution.
“My message to senators that aren’t on board with the Butch Lewis Act is suggest your idea. This gets worse the longer it’s delayed,” Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said.
With Baldwin’s support, the Teamsters are hoping to convince Republicans to find a bipartisan solution.
“It’s a crisis. We don’t have any more time,” Amsden said.