Skip to Content

Senate Democrats Refuse to Legislate: Block Consideration of SECURE Act

November 7, 2019

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) went to the Senate Floor with the intent of actually legislating. Senate Democrats had no interest in doing the same, despite weeks of repeated cries to the contrary.

The SECURE Act makes significant changes to federal retirement and tax laws. It passed the House in May following a legislative process that involved committee and floor debate. To date, the Senate has not been afforded the same process.

As such, Senator Toomey - joined by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) - made a unanimous consent request to take up and vote on the SECURE Act while allowing the Republican and Democratic sides the opportunity to each offer five amendments. Senator Toomey sought to address a drafting error in the tax code to ensure that the full cost of store, office, or building improvements can be immediately expensed as was originally intended. This measure currently has 52 cosponsors as a freestanding bill, 13 of whom are Democratic senators.

Unfortunately, Senate Democrats objected to Senator Toomey's request for a limited time agreement, essentially noting that Senate Republicans should not have the right to even try to amend the SECURE Act and that the only acceptable outcome is unanimous passage of the House bill with no legislative process whatsoever. This is a noteworthy shift from Senate Democrats who have bemoaned the lack of votes on bills and amendments with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer repeatedly referring to the Senate as a "legislative graveyard."

Senator Toomey said the following:

"There's a proper way to resolve these kinds of differences, and that is to put this bill on the Senate floor, to open it up for amendments and allow the Senate to work its will. The Senate will almost certainly pass some version, probably very similar to the House bill. And then we iron out whatever little differences there are. This is the way we legislate. And that's what I'm suggesting we do today. To do otherwise would be to treat this body as just a rubber stamp for the House, and that's not the purpose of having two legislative bodies."

Click here to view Senator Toomey's request to proceed to the SECURE Act