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Sherrod Brown Pushes Pension Solution, As Crisis Looms Over Senate Race

J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press

Some 1.3 million retired unionized workers are facing a growing crisis surrounding underfunded pensions. With 60,000 of those workers in Ohio, it’s sure to be an issue in this year’s campaign for U.S. Senate.

Incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown has a proposal he wants to see passed by the end of the year.

Ohio’s Democratic Senator is pushing the Butch Lewis Act, named in memory of a Cincinnati labor leader, which would use Treasury bonds to create loans to shore up multi-employer pension funds.

Brown said he wants bipartisan support for his act from the rare joint House-Senate Committee considering it. 

“It goes direct to the Senate floor and the House floor – no amendments, no monkey business – voted up or down and sent to the President,” Brown said. “That’s the way we wrote it because we wanted to take it out of politics as much as you can in an election year.”

The 16-person committee, which Brown co-chairs, is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and needs the support of 10 members to pass the act. Ohio's Republican Senator, Rob Portman, is also a member.

Brown said it’s not a bailout, but he doesn’t have an estimated cost yet.

Brown's opponent this fall, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci,  said through a spokesperson that he also wants a lasting solution, the Butch Lewis Act wouldn’t pass Congress and potentially would come at a tremendous cost to the taxpayer.