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Renacci Dismisses the 'Butch Lewis Act' as Unlikely to Pass Congress, Save Pensions

photo of Sherrod Brown with Teamsters
KAREN KASLER
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Some 1.3 million retired unionized workers are facing a growing crisis surrounding underfunded pensions. And with 60,000 of those in Ohio, it’s sure to be an issue in the campaign for U.S. Senate.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is pushing the Butch Lewis Act, named in memory of a Cincinnati labor leader. It would use treasury bonds to create loans to shore up multi-employer pension funds. And Brown says he wants bipartisan support for his act from the rare joint House-Senate Committee considering it.

Whatever the committee decides, “It goes direct to the Senate floor and the House floor – no amendments, no monkey business – voted up or down and sent to the president. That’s the way we wrote it because we wanted to take it out of politics as much as you can in an election year,” he said.

Brown says it’s not a bailout, but he doesn’t have an estimated cost.

His opponent this fall is Republican Congressman Jim Renacci. His spokesperson says he also wants a lasting solution, but the Butch Lewis Act wouldn’t pass Congress and potentially would come at a tremendous cost to the taxpayer.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.