NEW DETAILS: Delphi pensions bill stalls in Senate

Screen capture of the virtual press conference in March by members of Congress who introduced legislation to make whole salaried retirees of Delphi.

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Screen capture of the virtual press conference in March by members of Congress who introduced legislation to make whole salaried retirees of Delphi.

‘Unanimous consent’ blocked but a slower floor vote is possible

A bill that would restore the pensions of salaried retired engineers and managers of Delphi, thousands of whom still live in the Miami Valley, has stalled in the Senate.

An Idaho senator’s objection made a quick unanimous vote for the bill impossible Thursday.

Nothing additional was added to the legislation, according to Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office. Brown, D-Ohio, asked for the Senate to pass the legislation through unanimous consent. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, objected to unanimous consent.

While unanimous consent is no longer possible for the bill, the slower process of negotiations toward a floor vote in the Senate still remains.

“We don’t give up,” Brown said in an online press conference Friday when asked about prospects for the bill. “Delphi employees deserve this. They lost their pensions through no fault of their own.”

He added that he hopes to have a vote before year’s end. “We’re going to continue this until we make it happen.”

The House of Representatives passed the bill with bipartisan backing July 27. Sen. Rob Portman, Brown’s Ohio counterpart, is a co-sponsor and supports the bill, Brown has noted.

The bill requires the U.S. Treasury to make up the difference between the partial pensions paid by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. — the government-based insurer of last resort for private retirement plans — and what salaried Delphi retirees understood they were always owed, plus interest.

Most salaried retirees saw their pensions diminished greatly when the PBGC assumed control of the pensions after Delphi’s bankruptcy in 2009, reduced by up to 70% in some cases, while GM continued to support the pensions of hourly, union-represented Delphi workers.

A spokesman for Crapo referred questions to a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee. A message was sent to her.

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