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House rejects resolution asking Congress to do something for retirees in a bankrupt pension fund

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The House has defeated a resolution, asking Congress to pass what has been known as the “Butch Lewis” Act.

The act deals with the bankruptcy of the Central States Pension Fund. It asks Congress to do something so retirees – especially those who were UPS drivers – can get their full pension amounts. It would affect about 2000 North Dakotans.

During floor debate, Rep. Steve Vetter (R-Grand Forks) called it a matter of honor.

"Now, after a person has already given many years of their life, they're told, 'Sorry -- we can only give you half of what is promised you," Vetter said. "This is not fair, nor is it right."

Opponents called it a federal “bailout” – and said the government shouldn’t bail out a private entity. Rep. Daniel Johnston (R-Kathryn) said two years ago, the Legislature passed a resolution calling for a national Constitutional Convention for a balanced federal budget.

"We want the federal government to get its fiscal house in order," Johnston said. "Now, we have a resolution that's essentially telling the federal government that we want you to bail out private pension funds. I call that mixed signals."

Other opponents -- such as Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) -- pointed out that the bill pending in Congress is sponsored only by Democrats.

"I have huge concerns with that," Becker said.

The resolution failed on a 70-21 vote.

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