Latest on WEP/GPO

While attending the Annual C o m m u n i c a t i o n s and Legislative Conference of the National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS), Association CEO Shawn Duhamel and Legislative Liaison Nancy McGovern had meetings with key Congressional staff and senior governmental affairs representatives of the AARP. We were joined at these meetings by Tom Lussier, our Washington, DC liaison and federal advisor.

On Capitol Hill, we had an in-depth meeting with the majority staff for the House Ways and Means Committee, who work at the direction of Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-MO). While we cannot violate the confidential nature of the discussion, we can say that it was both productive and encouraging. We say encouraging, because members of both political parties understand the unfairness of the current WEP and GPO laws. It is also clear that both Chairman Smith and the Committee’s ranking member Richie Neal (D-MA) want to find a workable solution to WEP and GPO.

Whether or not the solution embraced by the Committee is full repeal of both laws, as called for within HR82, or takes the form of a reform proposal remains to be seen. However, in listening to Chairman Smith’s and other Republican leaders’ public comments, it’s reasonable to assume that full repeal remains a tough sell – especially absent a broader reform of Social Security that would help absorb the projected $180+ billion cost of full repeal. This political hurdle exists despite the fact that HR82 now has 304 House cosponsors.

As history demonstrates, cosponsors do not necessarily translate to “yes” votes if and when a bill reaches the floor. In reality, cosponsors validate that the proposal is warranted and should be considered.


Conversations with AARP, which has not taken a position on the current WEP/GPO legislation, largely centered on the overarching big picture. Specifically, AARP is strongly advocating for a wider reform of Social Security occur before the system closes in on potential insolvency – now projected to occur in 2033, just 9 years from now. Mass Retirees agrees with this sentiment.

We also agree that passing a standalone WEP/GPO bill is far more difficult than the inclusion of repeal or reform language within a larger omnibus reform bill. This is especially true given the large price tag associated with full repeal, as well as with the more modest price of WEP/ GPO reform.

A critical hurdle that cannot be overlooked is the 60-vote requirement within the US Senate on any legislation involving changes to Social Security. And while advocates for HR82 have achieved a record 50 Senators in support of full repeal (including former CA Senator Diane Feinstein, who passed away in September), the support of at least another 11 US Senators is required for the bill to pass.

We believe that the next most likely step in the legislative process will be a Congressional hearing on solutions to WEP/GPO, including full repeal and reform of the two laws. If held, the hearing will most likely take place on Capitol Hill. There is no denying the effect that the pressure brought forth by retirees continues to have on keeping the issue on the Congressional front burner. In fact, Chairman Smith’s staff shared with us that they have received more letters on WEP/ GPO than on any other issue pending before the Committee.

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