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Rep. Danny K. Davis Statement on HR 397, Butch Lewis Act

You know, I’ve listened to all of the questions. And, as I listen, I’ve said to myself this reinforces to me the fact that I am a proud co-sponsor of the Butch-Lewis Act because it reassures tens of thousands of hard-working Americans in Illinois and across this nation that their government will protect their pensions from catastrophe. This markup is long overdue. In my District alone, at least $81 million in Central States pensions are at risk; in Illinois, over $3 billion in pensions are at-risk.

These retirees and workers did nothing wrong. They worked hard, day-in/day-out for decades to earn their pensions that they were promised, foregoing wage increases to build their retirement savings. They drove trucks, mined coal, kept grocery stores running, and baked bread all to keep our communities operating.  Now – due to no fault of their own – millions of workers and retirees would see their pensions evaporate – inflicting deep damage to their families, undermining businesses and communities, and shocking our economy. Non-partisan experts estimate that the cost of doing nothing is between $170 to $250 billion over the next 10 years – hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue and increased assistance to the millions of retirees who would lose their pensions.

I reject any position that we should ignore these retirees until we whole-scale reform multi-employer pensions.  When one’s house is on fire, you don’t wait for it to burn down before you do something about it.  You put the fire out, and then you move ahead to rebuild a better house.  Recent research shows that since the 2008 recession, 90 percent of Americans have not recovered.  If we ignore the crisis facing millions of retirees, our economy would be in a failure as a result of the ineptness of leadership. 

I represent an area in Chicago where there is a two block area of nothing but Teamsters.  We call it Teamster City, and I know that there are many union leaders and workers and representatives here from all over the country. I certainly want to assure those individuals from Teamster City that I pass by every day as I’m driving downtown to the Loop that – not only will I, but the Members of this Committee.  And, Mr. Chairman, again, I want to commend you for your leadership because leadership means going where there is need.  Looking after the hopes and aspirations of the people.  I am proud to be a Member of this Committee under your leadership, and I look forward to our passing not only this bill today but, yes, we’re going to keep America moving so that when we look back, we can say we did our part.

Congressman Davis serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support on the Committee of Ways and Means, with broad jurisdiction over a range of critical supports for workers, children, and families - including guaranteed federal funding for child care and child welfare.

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    2813-15 W. Fifth Avenue
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