Pension reform had a longer shelf life than anticipated, finally winning legislative approval after a number of false steps.The Pension Protection Act of 2006 passed the House by a margin of 279 to 131. Meanwhile, the Senate voted 93 to 5 to approve the bill, clearing it for President Bush's signature.

"I'm pleasantly surprised it was passed," said Richard Hochman, president and chief operating officer of employee benefits consulting firm McKay Hochman Co. Inc. "I was one of those who believed that if it did not get passed by July 4, it wouldn't get done. I was watching C-SPAN on the night of the vote - it was actually heartwarming to see some bipartisanship in this Congress."

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