Brown reintroduces bill for Delphi salaried retirees

Bill fell short in last Congress, gets fresh opportunity in both House and Senate this year

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Susan Muffley Act, the bill crafted to make Delphi salaried retirees whole after they lost their pensions, is getting another look in the Senate.

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Mike Braun, R-Ind., re-introduced the act in the Senate Tuesday.

“We’re not giving up on this,” Brown said in an interview.

A last-ditch effort to advance the bill failed just before Christmas last year when the House Rules Committee did not include the measure in a final federal omnibus spending bill.

It had started with strength. The House passed the act last summer, but it did not win Senate assent, stalling when an Idaho senator raised an objection for apparent procedural reasons.

“I’m hopeful, yeah,” Brown said Tuesday. “We had a Democratic House pass it. We had every Democratic senator on board. One Republican senator blocked it.”

Still, Brown says he does not want to unnecessarily raise expectations; he’s making no guarantees about the bill’s prospects. But he said senators from Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Republican senators from Indiana, support it.

“We’re going to go until we get it,” Brown said. “I don’t know when that’s going to be. I don’t want to raise expectations that it’s going to happen in the summer or the fall, but we’re going to keep fighting until it does.”

The act, named after a Delphi retiree, would use federal funds to restore the pensions of retired engineers and managers from former auto parts producer Delphi, a company that once employed thousands of Dayton-area residents.

Salaried retirees from a then-bankrupt Delphi saw their pensions diminished when the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. assumed control of the company’s pensions in 2009, reduced by up to 70% in some cases, all while General Motors, Delphi’s former owner, continued to support the pensions of hourly, union-represented Delphi workers.

The benefit losses affected 20,000 Delphi salaried retirees, including more than 5,000 retirees in Ohio, Brown’s office said.

“It was my honor to introduce the Susan Muffley Act in the House of Representatives earlier this year,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will correct an injustice by restoring the pensions of 21,000 Delphi retirees. I appreciate Sen. Sherrod Brown for following my lead and introducing the companion bill in the U.S. Senate. The Delphi Salaried Retirees worked hard and played by the rules, and they should be able to retire with dignity. It’s due time that Congress recognize that and pass the Susan Muffley Act.”

Turner re-introduced the bill into the House at the start of the year.

Early Wednesday, Sens J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and John Fetterman, D-Pa., joined the bill, according to Brown’s office.

Delphi salaried retirees fought for well over a decade for their pensions, taking a federal lawsuit to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case early in 2022.

The bill would make up the difference between the pension benefits earned by salaried retirees and what they received following the GM bankruptcy in 2009.

This means beneficiaries who have already begun receiving benefits will receive a lump sum payment of the difference between what was paid by PBGC and would have been paid without the limitations, plus interest, Brown’s office said.

Retirees may pay income taxes on this lump sum over three years to ease the tax burden. All beneficiaries will receive their full earned benefit amount moving forward.

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