Saturday, September 9, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“You likely have seen the devastation Hurricane Harvey has caused and the impending destruction of Irma, and some of you are experiencing their unprecedented impact firsthand. NARFE partners with the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) to provide emergency grants and loans to federal employees and NARFE members affected by a declared national disaster through the NARFE-FEEA Disaster Fund. I am proud of the NARFE members who have donated more than $458,000 in aid to those affected by natural disasters. I am once again asking you to lend a helping hand if you are able. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support federal employees and NARFE members in disaster areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, or apply for a grant, please click here.”

Senate Passes Package to Fund Government Until December 8 

In a show of bipartisanship, the White House and congressional leaders have agreed to a short-term measure to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and provide disaster aid in response to Hurricane Harvey. The agreement funds the government and extends the debt ceiling deadline until December 8, allowing lawmakers more time to pass a budget and debate the debt ceiling.

The Senate passed a $15.25 billion Harvey aid package with a three-month continuing resolution and debt ceiling extension added to the bill. The legislation was quickly taken up by the House, which passed the bill on Friday. It now goes to the president’s desk for his signature. 

The continuing resolution extends the budget process and keeps the government operating at current spending levels until December 8. This move pushes back any decisions regarding budget proposals affecting the federal community, such as eliminating the Federal Employees Retirement System Annuity Supplement and decreasing or eliminating cost-of-living adjustments.

NARFE is closely following the latest budget developments and is working with lawmakers to prevent proposals that would negatively impact the federal community. NARFE members are strongly encouraged to write and call their legislators about attempts to reduce their earned pay and benefits.

President Sets 2018 Federal Employee Pay Raise

President Trump submitted an alternative pay plan for civilian federal employees on August 31. The 1.9 percent average pay raise includes a 1.4 percent across-the-board increase and an average additional increase of 0.5 percent in locality-based pay adjustments. 

Statutory policy calls for federal pay to increase at the rate of the Employment Cost Index for private-sector wages and salaries, minus 0.5 percent. Based on that figure, the across-the-board increase should have been 1.9 percent, with additional locality pay increases to close the gap between public- and private-sector wages. However, the president has the authority to override this automatic calculation.

NARFE President Richard G. Thissen commented, “While federal employees will appreciate the raise, an average increase of 1.9 percent is the minimum required to prevent federal pay from declining further, and more rapidly, below market than the current 35 percent wage disparity between public- and private-sector wages. Both Congress and the president should work together to pursue a more robust pay increase to maintain the highly qualified workforce needed to run an efficient federal government.” See NARFE’s full statement on the pay raise here

New OPM Director Nominee Announced 

President Trump announced Jeff Tien Han Pon as his latest pick for director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Pon previously served as deputy director of eGovernment at OPM, where he played a hand in the rollout of the USAJobs website. Pon also served as the chief human capital officer at the Energy Department, and most recently, he served as the chief human resources and strategy officer for the Society for Human Resource Management.

Pon is President Trump’s second nomination for director of OPM. George Nesterczuk, a Bush administration veteran, withdrew his name from consideration at the end of July. NARFE looks forward to learning more about Pon through the confirmation process. 

TSP Eases Financial Hardship Withdrawal for Harvey Victims 

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) announced a temporary change in its rules regarding financial hardship withdrawals. This move allows TSP participants who suffered losses from Hurricane Harvey to become eligible for the relaxed withdrawal option.

Withdrawal requests related to Hurricane Harvey must be submitted to TSP by January 24, 2018, and distributions must occur before January 31, 2018. Participants must withdraw at least $1,000 and cannot make additional withdrawal requests for six months. TSP has waived the rule that prohibits participants from contributing to their fund within six months after taking a withdrawal.

It is estimated that nearly 60,000 federal employees live or work in the area hit by Hurricane Harvey. NARFE partners with the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) to provide emergency grants and loans to federal employees and NARFE members affected by a declared national disaster through the NARFE-FEEA Disaster Fund. Find out more here if you are in need of assistance or are able to donate.

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 703-838-7780 or toll-free at 877-217-8234. 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 or call 703-838-7760.

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