Jodey Arington (R-TX)

Total of 6 Bills Now Pending to Repeal or Reform WEP & GPO.

Texas Congressman Jodey Arrington has stepped in to fill the void created by the retirement of Kevin Brady by filling a revised proposal to reform the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The bill, HR5342, is the 6th proposal filed in 2023 that would either reform the WEP or fully repeal both the WEP and Government Pension Offset (GPO) laws. Like Brady, who also hailed from Texas and held a senior leadership position within the House GOP caucus, Arrington chairs the powerful House Budget Committee and is the Leading Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. Brady previously chaired Ways and Means, as well as served as the ranking Republican member while the House was under Democratic control during the 116th and 117th Congressional sessions.

Like that filed by Brady in the past two sessions, Arrington’s proposal focuses exclusively on the WEP and provides current retirees who are now impacted by the WEP with a $100 per month rebate aimed at restoring part of the reduced benefit. The bill creates a new Social Security benefit formula for all future retirees that accurately accounts for work covered by Social Security vs. noncovered service, such as that covered by a public pension.

Where HR5342 differs from previous Republican reform proposals is that it grandfathers all workers age 18 and older, so that they will receive the greater of the current or revised benefit once they retire. Brady’s grandfather provision took effect for everyone over the age of 21.

HR5342 is similar to HR4260, filed by Congressman Richard Neal, in that it focuses exclusively on reforming the WEP and does not address the GPO at all. However, Neal’s bill goes further than Arrington’s on two key points. First, Neal’s proposal would restore $150 a month in WEP’d benefits ($1,800 annually, indexed to inflation). Neal also provides all future retirees with the greater of either the current or revised Social Security benefit using the new formula.

Unlike HR82 and its Senate counterpart S597 (sponsored by Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown), which fully repeal both the WEP and GPO laws altogether, the Arrington and Neal bills strictly focus on reform of the WEP.

Filed by Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA), HR82 currently has 294 cosponsors (200 Democrats and 94 Republicans). While supporters continue to push for the bill to be discharged for a vote on the House floor, formal opposition to the proposal has grown from national budget watchdog groups (see September 2023 Voice).

Two additional bills, focused on the overall reform of Social Security, also contain provisions repealing both the WEP and GPO laws. The two bills, HR4583 and S2280, are sponsored by Connecticut Congressman John Larson and Senator Richard Blumenthal and are exclusively cosponsored by Democrats.

“What is most encouraging is that we now have six different bills pending within the House and US Senate that address the WEP and GPO laws. The level of attention being brought to these issues is at an all-time high, which is unsurprising given the number of retirees harmed by these two laws continues to grow as people retire. Unlike the Notch Baby law, which included a fixed number of retirees, the growth of the population impacted by WEP and GPO will only place more pressure on Congress to act,” comments Mass Retirees CEO Shawn Duhamel. “However, that does not mean that the road ahead will get any easier or that Congress will act soon.

“We see the difficulty in getting Congress to act on items on which most Americans agree, like funding the military or passing the federal budget on time to avoid a shutdown. Those same forces and others from states not directly impacted by WEP and GPO will likely continue to oppose these bills, especially legislation fully repealing the laws.”

As members know, Mass Retirees has supported full repeal of both the WEP and GPO since the laws were created in 1983. With passage of full repeal unlikely to occur within the foreseeable future, the Association’s focus has been on helping to broker a compromise between Republicans and Democrats that would bring some immediate relief to current retirees. We have extended that push to include reform of the GPO as well.

Duhamel continued, “If these issues were easy to resolve the problem would have been fixed decades ago. The truth is that these are tough policies to change, especially without widespread public support and a funding source to pay for the changes. That said, collectively we will continue to do all we can do to bring change to these two awful federal laws.”


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