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
"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
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.