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Congresswoman Wilson Set to Chair Her First Education and Labor Subcommittee Hearing

As the top Democrat on Education and Labor's Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson will on Thursday, March 7, drop the gavel at the first HELP hearing of the 116th Congress.

Titled "The Cost of Inaction: Why Congress Must Address the Multiemployer Pension Crisis," the hearing will feature expert testimony on what's at stake if 100-plus multiemployer pension plans are allowed to fail and the adverse effect that will have on more than one million retirees, hundreds of thousands of workers enrolled in the plans, and businesses in states across the nation.

"This hearing is an important opportunity to learn more about the multiemployer pension system, the urgency of the crisis confronting it and the bipartisan solution to fix it," the Florida lawmaker will say in her opening remarks. "It's also a reminder that the fundamental question for Congress to consider is not how much it costs to fix the crisis, but how much it will cost retirees, employers and taxpayers if we do not act."

Lawmakers believe that the bipartisan Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act introduced earlier this year is the solution. The measure would establish a Pension Rehabilitation Administration within the Treasury Department that would be authorized to issue bonds to finance loans to failing and recently insolvent pension plans. The bill also requires plans receiving financial aid to repay their PRA loans.

"I am proud to be a leading supporter of the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act and urge Congress to take swift action," said Congresswoman Wilson. "If we don't, the repercussion will feel like an atomic blast to the nation's social safety net that American taxpayers cannot afford."

Although she has served on the Education and Labor Committee since her election to Congress, Rep. Wilson is for the first time a member of the House's controlling party. The elevation to chair of the HELP subcommittee will enable her to address major issues related to employer-sponsored health care plans' adherence to the Affordable Care Act, labor relations, and union and workers' rights, pensions, and more.

"Last November, voters gave Democrats control of the House with the expectation that we will do everything in our power to ensure that the federal government honors its mission and obligation to work for them so that they in turn can live their best lives," the congresswoman said. "Elections have consequences and we must not disappoint."