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House Approves Debt Relief/Pension Package

A debt relief measure and a pension reform bill were combined into a budget reconciliation package (H.R. 5203) that was approved, 401-20, by the House on September 19.

On September 18, the House separately passed, 381-3, the debt relief bill (H.R. 5173). Approved on September 14 by the House Ways and Means Committee, the measure would set aside 90 percent of the FY2001 non-Social Security budget surplus for reduction of the federal debt. The bill also includes Social Security and Medicare “lockbox” language, which would bar any tax or spending measures that would reduce the portion of the surplus generated by either of those programs (see The Source, 9/15/00).

In addition, the House already approved the pension reform measure (H.R. 1102) in July (see The Source, 7/21/00). The bill is designed to help expand workers’ retirement savings. It includes several provisions aimed at assisting women, who often have fewer retirement assets than men because they are more likely to take time out from the workforce to care for family members, and because they often have lower salaries on which to base pensions. In addition, women usually require more retirement funds, as they tend to live longer.

On September 7, H.R. 1102 was amended and approved by the Senate Finance Committee as a budget reconciliation bill (see The Source, 9/8/00). Amendments to budget reconciliation measures are prohibited during floor debate.

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