Monday, February 19, 2018

NARFE Legislative Hotline February 16, 2018











Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“President Trump’s budget calls for $152.5 billion in cuts to earned federal pay and benefits, going so far as to eliminate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for current retirees and hamstring current workers who are just years away from retirement. During his first year in office, the president consistently touted the strong economy, yet this budget would deny America’s federal community even a modest share of this economic prosperity. We must ensure that these cuts do not find their way into congressional budgets or other pieces of legislation. NARFE members should contacttheir legislators and tell them to reject these unprecedented cuts and any attempts to reduce the earned pay and benefits of the federal community.”

President’s Budget Targets Federal Workers and Retirees 

The president’s recently released fiscal year 2019 budget contains hundreds of billions in cuts that target the earned pay and benefits of the federal community in a time of economic prosperity and rising wage growth. NARFE members should contact their lawmakers today and tell them to reject these cuts, as they could be used in the budget or other pieces of legislation. Easily send a letter to your legislators here. Want to be an even stronger advocate? Select the Twitter and phone icons on the same page to find a sample tweet and call script.

Specifically, the president’s budget targets the retirement security of current federal retirees by reducing or eliminating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), leaving retirees insufficiently protected from rising inflation and increasing health care premiums. Current and future retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) would see their COLAs reduced by 0.5 percent each year, while retirees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) would see their COLAs eliminated altogether. 

Federal employees covered by FERS would see employee contributions to their annuities increase by 1 percent each year for the next six years, without any corresponding benefit increase. This amounts to a 6 percent pay cut for current workers and would increase the gap between public- and private-sector pay. On top of this, the president also proposed a pay freeze in calendar year 2019 for current workers.

The president’s budget also takes aim at those who are nearing retirement by eliminating the FERS Annuity Supplement for new retirees, including those forced to retire early, like federal law enforcement officers. On top of this, new retiree pensions would be based on the average of the highest five years of salary instead of the highest three.

Further proposals targeting Feds included limiting the rate of return on the Thrift Savings Plan Government Securities Investment (G) Fund, decreasing total paid time off by combining sick and annual leave into one pool and reducing working and retirement-age benefits for federal workers disabled through their service.

All told, these proposals would take away $152.5 billion in earned benefits from the federal community and would break implicit promises made to those who proudly served their nation. NARFE members must contact their legislators if we are to be successful in fighting off these unprecedented cuts.

OPM Director Nominee Approved by Senate Committee

After several months of delay, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) moved forward with the president’s nominee for Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Jeff Tien Han Pon. The committee voted en bloc to send Pon’s nomination to the full Senate for final confirmation.

Pon testified before HSGAC in October 2017, where he answered questions on areas he would like to see improved at OPM. During that hearing, Pon expressed concern with OPM’s retirement claims backlog and the slow pace of federal hiring, and advocated for greater agency-wide efficiency.

Pon most recently served as the chief human resources and strategy officer for the Society for Human Resource Management, but also has federal experience from his time as deputy director of eGovernment at OPM and as chief human capital officer at the Energy Department.

As of press time, the Senate has yet to schedule a vote on Pon’s final confirmation.

Hotline on an As-Needed Basis until March 2

Due to next week’s congressional recess, the Hotline will be published on an as-needed basis until March 2.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s advocacy staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly advocacy message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Advocacy Department at advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.


Friday, February 9, 2018

NARFE Legislative Hotline February 9, 2018

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“For months, NARFE has been asking its members to contact their lawmakers while Congress negotiated a bipartisan spending agreement. Today, I want to say thank you to all those who took action and tell you that your advocacy paid off. Congress passed a two-year bipartisan spending agreement that did not require cuts to federal pay and benefits as offsets. This is a big victory for the federal community and another powerful demonstration of NARFE’s grassroots efforts. Every email, letter and phone call you made to your legislators made a difference. The federal community has many fights ahead of us this year, but I know that NARFE members will rise to the occasion and advocate for their earned pay and benefits.”

Spending Agreement Passes: Federal Pay and Benefits Not Used as Offset

After a brief funding lapse, the president signed into law a two-year bipartisan agreement to lift strict budget caps on annual defense and domestic spending without using federal pay and benefits as offsets. This is a big win for the federal community and NARFE wants to thank all of its members who took action by contacting their legislators over the past several months. Your advocacy played a vital role in this victory.

The agreement increases annual discretionary spending by $300 billion over the next two years. Defense spending will increase by $80 billion in fiscal year 2018 (FY18) and $85 billion in fiscal year 2019 (FY19). Domestic spending caps will rise by $63 billion in FY18 and then $68 billion in FY19. Offsets worth about $100 billion were required, but they were not derived from federal pay and benefits. 

The agreement includes another continuing resolution that funds the government through March 23. This will give lawmakers the necessary time to finalize the details of appropriations now that topline spending numbers have been agreed to. The deal also temporarily suspended the debt ceiling for more than a year, until March 1, 2019.

Once again, thank you to all the NARFE members who remained vigilant and advocated for the federal community. The next few months will likely contain many challenges for the federal community, but NARFE members have proven that they are powerful advocates. See NARFE’s statement on the bipartisan spending agreement by going here.

President Expected to Release FY19 Budget Proposal Next Week

With a spending agreement in place, NARFE now awaits the release of the president’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal on February 12. NARFE members will recall that the president’s previous budget contained many proposals targeting the federal community, such as reducing and eliminating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), ending the FERS Annuity Supplement for new retirees and increasing employee retirement contributions for those under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). NARFE will closely monitor the budget proposal once it is made available.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s advocacy staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly advocacy message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Advocacy Department at advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

NARFE Legislative Hotline February 2, 2018











Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Funding for the federal government has been restored, but the temporary fix comes to an end February 8. Once again, lawmakers are staring down another deadline to keep the government funded. Topline spending numbers are still being negotiated on a potential bipartisan spending agreement and offsets will likely be needed. I may sound like a broken record, but NARFE members need to continue to make it clear to their legislators that we won’t accept any cuts to our earned pay and benefits. Contact your legislators today.” 

Spending Agreement Puts Feds at Risk 

Lawmakers ended the government shutdown on January 22 after passing a continuing resolution that funds the government through February 8. Negotiations are still ongoing on topline spending numbers for a potential bipartisan spending agreement. Meanwhile, lawmakers have once again raised the need for another continuing resolution to keep the government funded. Once topline numbers are set, Congress will vote on a spending deal that will raise the sequester caps and likely require offsets, putting federal benefits at risk.

NARFE members must contact their legislators and tell them not to use federal benefits as an offset for raising sequestration budget caps. Congress has used federal benefits for offsets in past bipartisan budget agreements, and the federal community must let Congress know that it has paid more than its fair share. Want to be an even more effective advocate? Customize your letter with your story of federal service and amplify your voice within congressional offices.

OPM Sends Letter to FEHB Carriers on 2019 Program 

In late January, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) sent a letter to all insurance carriers participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. The letter urged them to find new ways to reduce their costs in 2019 and outlined OPM’s guidelines and goals for the nation’s largest employer-provided health insurance program.

The letter touched on several points, such as changing cost sharing for high- and low-value benefits to ensure that participants get the best value and implementing high-performance tiered provider networks. OPM also suggested cutting cost sharing when participants manage chronic conditions or obtain higher-quality or more efficient care through creative provider or vendor partnerships. Other suggestions included increasing participant engagement through the use of online portals and considering the use of evidence-based management tools.

OPM expressed concerns that 26.2 percent of total FEHB expenditures were on prescription medications in 2016. To combat this, OPM strongly encouraged “FEHB carriers to review their contracts and to require that members are charged the lesser of the prescription price or applicable copayment amount for prescription medications.”

NARFE members can see a full copy of OPM’s letter by going here.

Webinar: What’s in Store for the Federal Community in 2018?

Did you miss the latest NARFE Advocacy Department webinar on the threats that could arise through the budget process and other pieces of legislation? Want to make sure that you’re up on the latest? Learn what to expect in the face of grave threats, how NARFE plans to fight on your behalf and what you can do to protect the benefits you earned through a career of public service. Watch an archived version of “2018: What’s in Store for the Federal Community?” presented by NARFE’s Advocacy Staff Vice President Jessica Klement by going here

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s advocacy staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly advocacy message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Advocacy Department at advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Who views this Newsletter

Good Morning,
There was a spike in the people that view this newsletter/blog on the 24th of January. What was posted on here on that day? Well the answer is the "NEWSWATCH".
I viewed the statistics on who views this newsletter/blog and the people live in the United States proper and Alaska.







Friday, January 26, 2018

NARFE Legislative Hotline January 26, 2018










Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen
“The government shutdown is over, but the three-day ordeal brought unwanted confusion and anxiety for the federal community. Federal workers were barred from their jobs due to no fault of their own and faced the very real scenario of not knowing when they would receive their next paycheck. We cannot allow congressional impasse to prevent federal workers from being able to serve their country. Thank you to all the NARFE members who contacted their legislators during this stressful time. Now that funding has been restored and back pay granted, NARFE members need to keep contacting their legislators to tell them not to use federal pay and benefits as offsets in any potential spending agreement. The next few weeks will be extremely important for the federal community and we cannot back down.” 

Government Shutdown Over But Spending Threat Remains
The three-day government shutdown ended Monday evening after a continuing resolution that funds the government through February 8 passed Congress and was approved by the president. Furloughed federal employees returned to work on Tuesday as normal operations resumed.

Federal employees who were required to work during the shutdown will be paid for their time. In addition, furloughed employees will receive back pay for any time furloughed due to a NARFE-supported provision added to the continuing resolution.

Lawmakers now have through February 8 to keep the government funded. During this time, ongoing negotiations are in full swing to determine topline spending numbers for a potential bipartisan spending agreement. Once numbers are set, Congress will vote on a budget deal that will raise the sequester caps and likely require offsets, putting federal benefits at risk.

NARFE members must contact their legislators and tell them not to use federal benefits as an offset for raising sequestration budget caps. Congress has used federal benefits in past bipartisan budget agreements for offsets and the federal community must let Congress know that it is not a piggybank.

Lawmakers must hear from NARFE members if we are to be successful. Contacting your legislators is easy. Simply click here to send a letter urging them to reject any spending agreement that cuts the earned pay and benefits of the federal community. Want to be an even more effective advocate? Customize your letter with your story of federal service and amplify your voice within congressional offices.

What’s in Store for the Federal Community?

2017 brought unprecedented threats to the earned pay and benefits of the federal community, and NARFE was successful in preventing those harmful cuts from becoming law. But it’s a new year, and even greater threats could arise through the budget process and other pieces of legislation. To learn about what’s in store for the federal community this year, join NARFE’s Advocacy Staff Vice President Jessica Klement for a webinar on Tuesday, January 30, at 2 p.m. ET. 

Learn what to expect in the face of grave threats, how NARFE plans to fight on your behalf and what you can do to protect the benefits you earned through a career of public service. 

The hourlong “2018: What’s in Store for the Federal Community?” webinar including Q&A will be hosted on Tuesday, January 30, at 2 p.m. ET. Registration for this live event is limited to the first 1,000 registrants, so click here to register now! 

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress
NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s advocacy staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline
This weekly advocacy message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Advocacy Department at advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

NARFE Legislative Hotline January 19, 2018











Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Congress is inching closer to a midnight deadline to keep the government funded and the federal community is understandably on edge. As I write this, lawmakers in the Senate have yet to pass a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown. The federal community knows all too well that there is no good in a shutdown. In 2013, over 800,000 federal employees were furloughed for 16 days without the guarantee of back pay. Your senators need to hear that from you. Call them now by dialing 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 5. Tell your senators to come to an agreement and not shut down the federal government.”

Government Funding Not Settled 

At the time of the Legislative Hotline’s distribution, leaders in the Senate had not agreed on funding the government after today. Yesterday, the House passed another continuing resolution (CR), extending government funding through February 16. Senate Democrats will not agree to the House’s continuing resolution unless there is a long-term fix on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and a handful of Republican senators have voiced opposition to the House-passed CR.

In an effort to not delay this weekly message, we are providing you an update with what we know now. Should the federal government shut down at midnight tonight, please be on the lookout for further messages from NARFE over the weekend.


Legislation Introduced to Protect Furloughed Employees

Legislators in the House and Senate introduced legislation that would require the federal government to provide back pay to federal employees who were furloughed due to a government shutdown. Similar legislation was introduced after the 2013 shutdown. 

During a shutdown, “excepted” federal employees – those who are asked to work – would not be paid for their time until a funding agreement is reached. Meanwhile, furloughed employees are barred from working and would not be paid. Congressional action must be taken for furloughed workers to receive back pay.

NARFE is closely monitoring the potential for a government shutdown and is urging Congress to keep the government funded. Federal employees who were furloughed in previous government shutdowns received back pay once the government reopened. However, this is not guaranteed. If the government shuts down tonight, NARFE will be working hard to ensure furloughed employees receive back pay.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s advocacy staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.


Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly advocacy message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Advocacy Department at advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.