H.R. 1140 gets 72 co-sponsors in less than 24 hours
CLEVELAND , March 22 -- In less than 24 hours, 72 members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1140, the Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001.
Rail labor lobbyists have been on the Hill all day, and the number of co-sponsors is expected to increase by the close of business today.
Introduced yesterday by the bipartisan leadership of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, H.R. 1140 will provide long-needed improvements in the surviving spouse benefit, full retirement annuity at age 60 with 30 years of service, elimination of artificial caps on benefits, vesting after five years instead of 10, and provisions that require the carriers to insure future fund solvency with future tax increases if necessary.
"This is a fair bill that's long overdue," said T&I Chairman Don Young (R-AK). "This new legislation has the support of both the Republican and Democratic leadership of the Transportation Committee, and the support of labor and management. The goals of this bill are simple, yet extremely important to the rail employees, their families, and management -- and these goals are to improve the benefits for railroad retirees and to reduce taxes for railroad employers.
"The House approved virtually identical legislation last year by a vote of 391 to 25," Young continued. "Yet, despite this overwhelming support in the House, the Senate did not consider the bill. This session, we're going to pass it early in the House so that the Senate will have every opportunity to finally do the right thing for these people."
"This legislation will bring substantial benefits to the more than one-quarter million men and women who work on America's railroads and the 700,000 retirees and survivors of retired railroad workers," said Jim Oberstar (D-MN), the Ranking Democratic Member on the Transportation Committee. "At the same time, the proposed changes to the Railroad Retirement Act will significantly reduce the payroll taxes paid by U.S. railroads.
"This is a good bill," Oberstar concluded. "It is good for workers; it is good for retirees and their survivors; it is good for the railroads, and it is good for the country."
"This legislation is critical to the hundreds of thousands of retired rail employees and their families across the country," said U.S. Rep. Jack Quinn (R-NY), the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads. "Coming from a railroad family, I have seen first-hand the amount of hard work and long hours that goes into working on a railroad.
"It gives me tremendous pride to be in a position to help put money in the pockets of these hard-working families," Quinn said. "This legislation passed by an overwhelming majority in the House last session, and I'm hopeful it will be signed into law this time around."
Last year, H.R. 4844 had 305 co-sponsors in the House, and Rail Labor is encouraging its members to at least equal that number this year.
A copy of the bill is available on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee website at: http://www.house.gov/transportation/rail/retirement.pdf
BLE members are urged to contact their member of Congress and ask that they co-sponsor H.R. 1140, the Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001. Correspondence should be addressed to:
What follows is a list of co-sponsors of H.R. 1140, as of March 22, 2001:
© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers