WASHINGTON – Following a vote today by Senate Republicans to undo rules meant to help workers at small businesses save for retirement, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced the Preserve Rights of States and Political Subdivisions to Encourage Retirement Savings (PROSPERS) Act. The PROSPERS Act would ensure that states and cities can continue to create retirement savings programs for workers in the private sector and help them save for retirement. These programs help lower the cost of entry for middle-class families to save for retirement, and reduce the cost of providing retirement benefits for small businesses. Many states, including Connecticut, have already begun developing these programs. Click here to view a video of Murphy’s remarks.

“Planning for retirement is hard. And the constant, nagging worry that you’re not saving enough is really scary. There is a crisis in this country, and Republicans are ripping away states’ ability to try to do something about it,” said Murphy. “55 million people in this country don’t have access to retirement savings plans through their employers. I’m proud to introduce this commonsense bill to simply allow states like Connecticut to offer workers the option to set aside a small portion of their earnings in a privately run plan.” 

“After a lifetime of hard work, Americans deserve to retire with dignity. Yet too many families are unprepared for retirement,” said Heinrich. “Instead of fighting for the financial security that is the cornerstone of a thriving middle class, Republicans voted today to take away opportunities for Americans to save their own money for retirement. Our legislation will make saving for retirement easier by providing workers with a simple way to put money away each month and easing the burden of participation and compliance on small businesses.”

Cosponsors of the bill are U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). 

Murphy has led Senate efforts to help Connecticut residents save for retirement. Murphy repeatedly fought to protect the Obama-era rule overturned today. He also authored bipartisan legislation, called the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, to help Americans responsibly save enough money for retirement. 

When workers have access to a retirement savings plan through their employer and are enrolled in that plan, they are more likely to save for retirement and build financial security later in life. However, according to the AARP, nearly 55 million workers across the country lack access to employer-sponsored retirement programs–nearly half of all private-sector workers aged 18 to 64. A Joint Economic Committee report on the state of retirement demonstrates that as incomes stagnate, workers face tough choices that leave American families vulnerable to future financial insecurity.  

In 2016, the Department of Labor published two final rules that clarified existing safe harbors making it easier for states and cities to establish retirement savings programs for private sector employees and provided guidance for those already in existence. These rules were overturned by Republicans’ passage of two Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions that deny more than 14 million Americans the ability to save for retirement through state and city programs.

Republican and Democratic state treasurers from across the country oppose today’s vote by Republicans in Congress to overturn Department of Labor rules because they want Congress to preserve the rights of states and cities to establish retirement savings options for their citizens.

The PROSPERS Act is supported by AFL-CIO, SEIU, National Council of La Raza, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.  

A copy of the PROSPERS Act is available here.