Electronic copies  of our newsletters are available from the links to the left. Our newsletters are published monthly, except for July and August.

NEWS:

NARFE Headquarters, December 15, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Federal funding is set to expire after Friday, December 22, and lawmakers must take action to keep the government funded. While negotiations on a possible bipartisan budget agreement are ongoing, the House is working on another continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through January 19, 2018. Plans to attach other bills to a continuing resolution are likely to receive pushback in the Senate and are creating greater uncertainty. Even with all the scrambling going on in Congress, NARFE members must stand strong. Legislators need to know that your federal pay and benefits were earned through service to your country and need to hear a unified message. Contact them today and make your voice heard.”

Lawmakers Looking to Avoid Shutdown

While Feds Remain at Risk Lawmakers are negotiating a bipartisan spending agreement as the December 22 deadline to keep the government funded quickly approaches. Negotiations are ongoing as lawmakers are also working on stopgap legislation to avoid a shutdown next week Friday.

The House Appropriations Committee is proposing legislation that would keep most of the government funded at fiscal year 2017 levels through January 19, 2018. This legislation would combine a continuing resolution (CR) with a full-year Department of Defense spending bill and additional funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. However, the Senate will likely reject the addition of the Defense bill to any CR. As the weekend progresses, changes to the proposed CR are anticipated.

With all the uncertainty surrounding government spending, NARFE members should be proactive and contact their legislators to tell them not to use federal benefits as an offset for raising sequestration budget caps. If we are to be successful, lawmakers must hear from you.

Congress has used federal benefits in past bipartisan budget agreements for offsets and the federal community must speak out. Contacting your legislators is easy. Click here to send a letter urging them to reject any spending agreement that cuts the earned pay and benefits of the federal community.

Report: White House to Freeze Employee Pay in 2019

The White House is seeking to implement a government-wide federal employee pay freeze in 2019, according to a report released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) minority staff. In late November, HSGAC minority staff received an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) document from a whistleblower that contained OMB’s intention to implement a pay freeze.

The document was OMB’s response to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding request for fiscal year 2019. DHS requested additional pay for some of its employees, but OMB denied this request and noted the administration’s intention to implement a government-wide pay freeze.

NARFE is deeply troubled by this report and encourages Congress to authorize a modest pay raise in fiscal year 2019. Federal employees are the backbone of America’s middle class and they deserve fair and competitive compensation for their public service.

Combined Federal Campaign Opens New Options for Retirees

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the world’s largest workplace charity campaign, is running its 2017 campaign season through January 12, 2018. The latest campaign season brings long-anticipated changes and includes more options for retirees to donate. This time-honored federal workplace tradition has raised more than $8 billion for charitable organizations around the globe.

The CFC recently announced that retirees will be able to make recurring donations that are deducted from their retirement annuity. In addition, retirees are now able to make a donation through a new online portal, similar to current federal employees. Paper pledge forms are still available and can be found on the websites for each CFC zone.

Those interested in donating to the CFC via their annuity or online can find out more by going here.

Consumer Prices Increase Slightly in November

Relevant to the 2019 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 0.04 percent in November 2017. The new CPI-W figure for November 2017 was 240.666, 0.42 percent higher than the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2017 (239.668), which will be used to determine the 2019 COLA.

Individuals receiving insurance benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) received a 2.0 percent COLA in March 2017. Looking ahead to the 2018 COLA for FECA benefits, which is computed on a calendar-year basis, the November 2017 CPI-W figure (240.666) is 2.24 percent higher than the December 2016 CPI-W figure (235.390). NARFE members can access NARFE’s latest COLA update here.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to 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 new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Return to December 15, 2017

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NARFE Headquarters, December 8, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“While the federal government will not shut down, the federal community is not out of the woods yet. Over the course of the next two weeks, a bipartisan budget agreement will likely be worked out by lawmakers, opening up the federal community to risk. Past bipartisan budget agreements have used federal pay and benefits to offset increases to budget caps and NARFE members must make it clear to their legislators that cuts to federal pay and benefits should be off the table. Federal workers and retirees honorably served their country and their benefits were earned. Contact your legislators today and make sure that your voice is heard.”

Open Season Ends Monday!

The deadline for the 2017 Federal Benefits Open Season is Monday, December 11. The opportunity is almost over for federal employees to enroll in or make changes within the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) and the Flexible Spending Accounts for Federal Employees (FSAFEDS) program. Federal retirees and survivor annuitants can change their FEHB health care plans as well as enroll in or change a FEDVIP plan during Open Season. The October, November and December issues of narfe magazine included excellent coverage of the plans and what you need to know for Open Season. More information can be found on the NARFE website here. Don’t delay in making any decisions regarding your health care coverage!

Continuing Resolution Signed to Keep the Government Open

The House and Senate passed a two-week continuing resolution that keeps the government funded at fiscal year 2017 levels through December 22, earning bipartisan support in both chambers. The continuing resolution was quickly signed by the president in order to stave off a government shutdown.

Passage of this continuing resolution gives lawmakers extra time to negotiate a bipartisan budget agreement. NARFE members should remain vigilant during these negotiations and contact their legislators to 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 take a stand. NARFE members have proven that their voices are powerful and it is time to show that commitment once again. 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.

2017 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government Released

The 2017 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings came out this week and the results are telling of the federal government. The rankings are produced by the Partnership for Public Service and they take into account the viewpoints of over 498,000 federal workers from 200 organizations.

The rankings were produced in conjunction with data collected through the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), which was administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and sent to executive and independent agency workers. In particular, three workplace satisfaction questions from the survey were highlighted, with the responses weighted based on agency size and other demographics.

At the top of the rankings for large agencies is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took the first spot for midsize agencies and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) was rated highest for small agencies. To see the rankings and learn more, click here.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to 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 new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Return to December 8, 2017

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NARFE Headquarters, November 17, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“There will not be a hotline next week, so I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. The federal family has faced many threats this year, and I am most thankful for the NARFE members who have taken action to protect their earned pay and benefits. Now, a new threat looms on the horizon as the federal government quickly approaches December 8, the day the latest continuing resolution expires and the government is no longer funded. If past is prologue, the federal community could be targeted as a means to offset increases in government spending. Please contact your legislators and tell them not to cut the earned pay and benefits of the federal community in any bipartisan two-year budget agreement.”

Act Now! Budget Spending Agreement Could Threaten Federal Benefits

The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution, which expires on December 8, leaving Congress with a tight window to keep the government funded, especially considering Congress is in recess next week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Congress could go multiple routes during this process, most likely passing another short-term continuing resolution. However, at some point fiscal year 2018 will have to be fully funded, and Congress will push to do this by the end of the year. NARFE is particularly concerned about the possibility of another two-year bipartisan budget agreement, which could use federal benefits as an offset for raising sequestration budget caps.

Congress passed bipartisan agreements in 2013 and 2015, both setting government funding levels for two years. Bipartisan negotiations are underway to do the same for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. If the final agreement follows the same pattern as the last two, increases in agency budgets would require offsets in spending. In 2013, increased retirement contributions for newly hired federal employees were used as an offset. Feds were spared in the 2015 agreement.

This time around, all of the proposals we’ve been successfully fighting are back on the table. These include ending the FERS Annuity Supplement, eliminating or reducing cost-of-living adjustments, decreasing the value of Thrift Savings Plan funds and increasing retirement contributions for current employees.

NARFE members must once again mobilize and take action to protect their earned pay and benefits. Take a few minutes today to contact your legislators and tell them that the federal community has paid more than its fair share and should not be targeted again by going here. NARFE members successfully made their voices heard just recently; the time has come to do it again.

House Passes Tax Reform Bill

The House passed its version of tax reform by a party-line vote of 227 – 205, handing the next move on tax reform to the Senate. The bill did not cut federal retirement or health benefits, but NARFE is closely monitoring the process of tax reform for potential implications on the federal community.

One area of concern NARFE has with the House version of the bill is the repeal of the medical expense deduction. Millions of taxpayers over age 65 use this deduction to reduce large out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as nursing home care, which can potentially bankrupt consumers. NARFE has joined with its coalition partners in the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) to oppose the repeal of this deduction. The Senate version of the tax bill, which was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on November 16, does not currently contain a repeal of this medical expense deduction.

NARFE will continue to provide updates on the status of the tax reform as it moves through the legislative process.

Consumer Prices Decrease in October

Last month, a 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was announced for civil service annuities, Social Security benefits and military retirement annuities in 2018. Now that the 2018 COLA is set, NARFE is tracking consumer prices for the 2019 COLA.

Relevant to the 2019 COLA, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) decreased 0.15 percent in October 2017. The new CPI-W figure for October 2017 was 240.573, 0.38 percent higher than the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2017 (239.668), which will be used to determine the 2019 COLA.

Individuals receiving insurance benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) received a 2.0 percent COLA in March 2017. Looking ahead to the 2018 COLA for FECA benefits, which is computed on a calendar-year basis, the October 2017 CPI-W figure (240.573) is 2.20 percent higher than the December 2016 CPI-W figure (235.390).

No Legislative Hotline November 24

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no Hotline next week. NARFE Headquarters will be closed November 23-24. The Hotline will return to its regular schedule on Friday, December 1.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to 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 new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Return to November 17, 2017

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