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Fri, Nov 18, 2005

Senate OKs Airline Pension Help

Bill Faces Uphill Battle In House

By a 97-2 margin, the Senate Wednesday passed legislation to bolster the nation's troubled pension system, including special assistance for aiding airlines and retired pilots under 65.
 
An amendment to the Pension Stability and Transparency Act would give cash-strapped airlines the ability to stretch out payments to their underfunded pension plans over 20 years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Such a grace period, it is hoped, would allow airlines to avoid cancelling their pension plans outright.

"We give hope for the employees to get their benefits," said Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who sponsored the airlines amendment which was passed on a voice vote. "Today was rewarding." 

The Senate also voted 58-41 to require full benefits for pilots forced by airline regs to retire at age 60, five years younger than the age for maximum pension insurance coverage.

The Senate pension bill now faces an uphill battle for approval in the House, however, which is considering its own pension-assistance bill. The House version does not include special provisions for airline employees.

The White House has also indicated it is opposed to the airline provision, according to media reports, although it supports the Senate version of the pension bill overall.

FMI: www.senate.gov

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