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Senate might vote on retirement bill after Thanksgiving


Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001 (S. 697) might reach a Senate vote when Congress reconvenes Nov. 27 after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers International Vice President and U.S. National Legislative Representative Raymond Holmes Nov. 16 informed union members that Sen. Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.) and other Senate leaders plan to do "everything they can to see that this bill is passed by the end of the year," according to a prepared statement.
United Transportation Union National Legislative Director James Brunkenhoefer in a Nov. 16 letter to UTU members also claims Sen. Daschle has committed to pushing for a vote Nov. 27 on S. 697, which has 75 co-sponsors.
The House July 31 overwhelmingly passed the bill (H.R. 1140) by a 384-33 vote.
If enacted, the legislation would provide full retirement annuity at age 60 (instead of age 62) after 30 years of service, eliminate artificial caps on benefits, establish new-employee vesting in the Railroad Retirement System after five years (instead of 10 years), and raise a widow’s Tier II annuities to equal those paid by Social Security (current law sets a widow’s Tier II annuity at 50 percent of a retiree’s Tier II annuity).
The bill also would allow the railroad pension to be invested in a mix of public and private securities.