WASHINGTON – Two House Republican leaders said Tuesday they had reached an agreement with the United Auto Workers on major pension reform legislation, clearing out objections ahead of a House vote on the bill before it adjourns for the year.
Rep. John Boehner, chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas said that with the agreement they had secured the UAW's active support for the legislation.
Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said separately at a news conference that with that development the House was ready to vote this week on the pensions bill, aimed at ensuring the survival of the financially troubled employer-based pension system.
A week ago Blunt announced that there was "really no likelihood" that the House would take up the pensions bill this year because of the unwillingness of Democrats to support the legislation.
"The UAW's support adds even more momentum to the ever-growing coalition of employer and labor support for the Pension Protection Act, and we expect the House to pass this measure before Congress adjourns this week," Boehner, R-Ohio, and Thomas, R-Calif., said in a statement.
They said that in talks with the UAW they had agreed to two "modest" changes in the transition rules governing benefit restrictions, including shutdown benefits.
The Senate last month passed its version of the legislation that attempts to tighten rules for companies that underfund their pension funds while protecting the promised benefits of workers and retirees and shoring up the financial status of the federal agency that insures defined-benefit plans.