Washington, D.C. — Today, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following remarks in support of H.R. 1994, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019, on the House floor.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Madame Speaker.
“For nearly two years, Republicans have been advocating for policies that help our families and Main Street businesses save more and earlier for the future.
“Following the historic rewrite of our tax code, Republicans knew that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was only step one.
“We changed the trajectory of our economy with our reforms.
“Today, we are growing 50 percent faster than the Obama administration projected, wages are surging for blue-collar workers who need it most, and our job market continues to be the envy of the world.
“These are all encouraging signs – and Republicans are committed to building on this success for years to come.
“Which is why last year, we set out to change the culture in Washington, where we only do tax reform once a generation.
“In Tax Reform 2.0, we passed three bills that offered permanent tax relief for middle-class families, sparked American innovation, and enhanced retirement and savings vehicles for workers and our local job creators.
“Those reforms passed on a bipartisan basis – and our retirement proposals passed in this chamber not once but twice.
“Unfortunately, time ran out on the calendar before we were able to get those reforms to the President’s desk.
“But I was greatly encouraged earlier this year when Chairman Neal reached out to me saying he was committed to getting retirement-focused legislation signed into law this year.
“Right away, he and I, and many Members of our Committee, worked together to develop the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act – or the SECURE Act.
“The SECURE Act, which we are voting on today, builds well on the work Republicans have championed throughout this Congress and the last.
“Our bipartisan legislation makes it easier for Main Street businesses to offer retirement plans to their workers by easing administrative burdens, cutting down on unnecessary and often costly paperwork.
“In this bill, we also offer local businesses the flexibility to tailor retirement plans to best fit the needs of their workers, not to the needs of Washington.
“Additionally, our reforms help Americans not only save earlier in their careers, but it helps families save longer, as well.
“We know for a fact that people are working longer today than in previous generations. Our tax code should reflect that.
“Which is why we make smart and needed changes to reflect today’s workforce. First, the age limit for contributing to IRAs is removed.
“And second, we increase the minimum age for required withdrawals from 70 and a half to 72.
“This legislation is pro-worker.
“Equally as important, our bill is also pro-family.
“We allow parents to access their own retirement accounts on a penalty-free basis to use when welcoming a new child into their homes, whether by birth or adoption.
“And our legislation lowers taxes for Gold Star families, ensuring that the children of our fallen heroes have the certainty they deserve.
“This provision was first made public in 2014, in a draft that was widely praised by Democrats and Republicans alike, brought to us by the Joint Committee on Taxation to make it simpler for families to file their kids taxes; and also to close some tax loopholes for the wealthy.
“Unfortunately, over five years and with scrutiny by both parties and tax experts at JCT, we still did not see this one unintended consequence. And in this bill, we worked together – Republicans and Democrats – to make sure we honor our Gold Star families.
“The time is ripe for these reforms. Workers’ paychecks are rising, inflation is low, and businesses are expanding. What better opportunity to help folks save for the future?
“Chairman Neal deserves a great deal of credit.
“The bill we brought to the Rules Committee earlier this week cleared our Committee unanimously.
“Members of the Progressive Caucus and Freedom Caucus—Members of the New Democrats, Problems Solvers, and the Republican Study Committee—all voted yes on these reforms.
“That is rare occurrence in Washington.
“And it speaks to what a Committee can accomplish when we work together on reforms to positively impact our families and economy.
“But it is incredibly troubling that special interests – in this case, teachers unions – forced changes on a bipartisan bill for absolutely no good reason at the eleventh hour.
“These liberal special interest groups forced Democrats to block two provisions.
“One that allows parents to use educational savings for the expenses of homeschooling.
“And the second would allow families with kids in grades K-12 to use savings for books, tutors, educational therapies for students who may need it, and a host of learning tools.
“I will talk further on the unfortunate circumstances that brought about the removal of those two incredibly important provisions.
“Backdoor deals made in the dead of night—without Republican knowledge or support—is not the way to do business.
“But as we begin the debate on this legislation, I am still encouraged by the bill we have in front of us today.
“The SECURE Act will greatly benefit our workers and deserves strong support, and I will ask all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support these reforms.
“Madame Speaker, I yield the balance of my time.”