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Home » Legislative Update » House Ways and Means Committee Marks Up and Reports Out HR 397, The Butch Lewis Act

House Ways and Means Committee Marks Up and Reports Out HR 397, The Butch Lewis Act


After the House Education and Labor Committee marked up and passed HR 397 on June 11, the House Committee on Ways and Means took the bill up on Wednesday July 10. By a vote of 25-17, Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and members of the House Ways and Means Committee ushered the Butch Lewis Act out of committee along party lines past all opposition, sending it to the House floor.

Before the July 10 committee mark-up, a labor rally was held on the east side of the Capitol building led by Neal. The AFM worked with Local 161-710 (Washington, DC) President and newly elected IEB Member Ed Malaga, Secretary-Treasurer Marta Bradley, and board member Douglas Rosenthal, as well as with Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD) Secretary-Treasurer Mary Plaine, to field a group of local AFM members and Executive Board officers to attend both the rally and the mark-up at the behest of AFM President Ray Hair. Members of Local 802 (New York City) were also in attendance as well as Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President and IEB Member Dave Pomeroy, who also made a visit to Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) office.

“They earned their benefits” became the rallying call to members of the committee from Representative William James Pascrell (D-NJ), debunking the opposition’s theory that the failure of more than 120 multi-employer pension plans rests solely with alleged trustee mismanagement. Democrats in turn made it clear that because there was not enough punishment of Wall Street bankers who torpedoed the economy in 2008, serving no jail time, the rest of corporate America felt comfortable to continue fleecing the American people without redress.

A labor rally was held on the east side of the Capitol building on July 10 to urge legislators to support the Butch Lewis Act. AFM members and executive board officers from multiple locals attended both the rally and the legislation mark-up session at the behest of AFM President Ray Hair.

Representative John Lewis (D-GA) noted that Congress has a moral obligation to fix this problem, bearing in mind that it was corporate America’s desire, evidenced by the 2008 market dilemma, to continue to boost their own corporate profits and multi-million-dollar salaries.

During the five-hour mark-up for HR 397, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), a member of the committee and co-chair of the House Creative Rights Caucus, noted that the failure of these plans was not the fault of pensioners and plan participants. She shared stories of her constituent Gary Lasley, Secretary-Treasurer of AFM Local 47, supported by testimony from AFM RMA President Marc Sazer, also a member of AFM Local 47. Chu talked about how a failure by Congress to support all working men and women, particularly those in the film and Broadway sectors, during this crisis will leave Sazer, Lasley, and their AFM colleagues unable to take advantage of years of pension contributions/retirement security that they earned and so well deserve. Through her comments and commitment to our great union, Representative Chu distinguished herself as a true champion of all professional musicians.

The full House of Representatives is expected to take the Butch Lewis Act up for a final floor vote in the near future. As of this writing, an exact date has not been set. AFM members have been asked by AFM-EPF Trustees and by President Hair to contact their representatives in the coming weeks and encourage them to co-sponsor HR 397, the Butch Lewis Act, and vote for its passage.

As of this writing, a Senate companion bill has not been introduced.