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Loebsack cosponsors bill to set congressional pensions & Social Security at same age

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack became the first House Democrat Friday to co-sponsor proposed legislation that would set the age at which members of Congress are eligible to draw from their pension to the age of retirement under the Social Security Act.

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/dave_loebsack_125.jpg Dave Loebsack

The Congressional Retirement Age Act of 2011, HR 2397, was introduced in late June by U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.). The bill has 18 co-sponsors, including Loebsack, who is the only Iowan. It has been referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy. A similar measure, S 742, was introduced in the U.S. Senate in March by Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and has two co-sponsors.

If approved and signed into law, the bill would essentially prevent members of Congress from accessing their retirement funds any earlier than everyday Americans. It amends the federal retirement system to make the Social Security retirement age the same point at which current and future congressional members get access their benefits.

Currently, Congress members can access their full pension benefits at age 62 after five years of service, but can be eligible at age 50 if they have served long enough. This bill would tie eligibility for their pension to their Social Security retirement age (65 or 67 depending on when they were born).

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/sherrod_brown_125.jpg Sherrod Brown

“The people who cavalierly say we can raise the retirement age probably don’t know people who work in a diner or in construction or in manufacturing or in retail and had their knees go out in their 40s or 50s,” Brown told The Washington Post. “People who are doing physical work always have back problems and joint problems.”

Although some might think the proposal is more lip-service than full-meal, Brown says “this is way more than a message amendment” and that it “could force members of Congress to reassess their views” about raising the retirement age.

Loebsack agrees.

“Members of Congress must be willing to demonstrate a personal commitment to getting our fiscal house in order,” he said. “This legislation is a continuation of my work to ensure Members of Congress take a look at what is happening at kitchen tables in Iowa and across the country and do their part to help reign in spending and bring down the federal deficit.”

Earlier this year, Loebsack co-introduced the Congressional Pay Cut Act, which aimed to reduce salaries for members of Congress by five person and end automatic pay increases that occur unless Congress votes to stop them. If the bill was approved, it would mark the first time in 77 years that members of Congress would see a decrease in pay.

Schilling said he was pleased to be working with Loebsack to raise the pension eligibility age in addition to working with him to secure the future of the Rock Island Arsenal and its JMTC.

“I welcome this bipartisan support for this common-sense piece of legislation,” Schilling said.

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