Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen
“NARFE members should be on their phones and computers, calling and writingtheir legislators now that the Senate has passed its fiscal year 2018 budget resolution. While the Senate budget does not contain cuts to federal pay and benefits, the House budget does, to the tune of at least $32 billion. Differences between the two budget resolutions are being worked out between the chambers in conference, marking an important juncture for the federal community. If Congress decides to go the way of the House, the federal community will be one step closer to having to pay for tax reform through cuts to earned federal retirement and health benefits. NARFE members must contact their legislators NOW.”
Senate Passes Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution
The Senate passed its fiscal year 2018 budget resolution by a vote of 51-49. Unlike the House budget, the Senate budget does not contain any requirement to find savings from federal retirement and health benefits programs. Instead, the Senate version focuses solely on tax policy changes.
The Senate budget would allow the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years as a means to advance tax policy changes. Meanwhile, the House passed a budget resolution that instructs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) to find at least $32 billion in savings as the offset for tax changes. As the only substantial mandatory spending under OGR’s jurisdiction comes from federal retirement and health benefit programs, such instructions target those programs.
Now that the Senate passed a budget, a joint budget agreement must be negotiated between the two chambers, and passed again by both the House and Senate. This joint budget agreement, if passed, will determine whether or not federal pay and benefits cuts will be used to pay for tax reform.
NARFE members are strongly encouraged to contact their lawmakers and ask that they oppose any joint budget resolution that contains cuts to the earned pay and benefits of the federal community. See how to take action below.
Contact Your Legislators to Protect Your Earned Pay and Benefits!
1) Send a Message via NARFE’s Legislative Action Center
NARFE members are strongly encouraged to send an action letter to their members of Congress via the NARFE Legislative Action Center.
2) Call your Legislator’s Office!
Do you prefer talking directly with a congressional office? A new call script regarding the budget process is available here.
3) Send a Letter to the Editor
Writing a letter to the editor is an effective way to reach a large audience, including gaining the attention of congressional offices. Raise additional awareness about your concerns with proposals in the budget by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper here.
4) Post on Social Media
Looking for another way to take action? Social media is a powerful tool to gain the attention of your legislators. Use NARFE’s social media toolkit to take action and be sure to use the hashtag #RetirementTax in your posts.
Senate Committee Holds Hearing for OPM Director Nominee
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a hearing this week on the President’s nominee for Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Jeff Pon, Ph.D., who previously served as deputy director of eGovernment at OPM and as the chief human capital officer at the Energy Department.
Pon testified before the committee and answered questions on areas he would like to see improved at OPM. Pon expressed concern with OPM’s retirement claims backlog and advocated for ways to create greater efficiency, such as reducing reliance on paper processes by transitioning to electronic transactional methods. He also reflected on the current slow pace of the federal hiring and expressed his desire to speed up the process. Pon even broached the subject of security clearances and cited a need to standardize the clearance process across the federal government.
When asked about the protection of personal information, notably the 2015 cyber breaches at OPM, Pon responded that OPM would have qualified personnel and a plan in place to protect against known cybersecurity risks under his leadership.
While the hearing went smoothly, HSGAC Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-WI, warned of his intention to hold up the confirmation process over an issue with employer contributions to congressional health insurance policies. At this point, the state of the confirmation by the full Senate remains uncertain.
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 legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.
Obtaining the Hotline
This weekly legislative 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 Legislative Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.