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NEWS:

NARFE Headquarters, February 17, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“It was a busy week on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers bustling between committee meetings and confirmation hearings, and introducing new legislation. Lawmakers are in recess next week for the Presidents' Day holiday and most will return to their home districts. This is an excellent opportunity to attend a town hall meeting and get your legislators on record about protecting the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees. I hope you all enjoy Presidents’ Day!”

Legislation Providing Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees Introduced

The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (FEPPLA) of 2017 (H.R. 1022/ S. 362) was introduced in the House by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY, and Barbara Comstock, R-VA, and in the Senate by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-HI. The bill would offer federal employees six weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. NARFE supports this bill and believes it would offer comparable benefits to compete with the private sector for top talent.

In a statement, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen said, “It has been well-documented that paid parental leave improves recruitment and retention of highly qualified, talented employees. It boosts employee morale, which has been shown to increase productivity, and reflects the value that the citizens of this country place on family and parenting.” Read NARFE’s full statement here.

Notably, a similar bill passed the House in 2009, but failed to see further action. Even with more recent inaction, lawmakers have continued to champion this cause. Rep. Maloney recently stated that she reached out to Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter, to tell her about the legislation. The president’s daughter has made previous statements in support of paid parental leave.

NARFE urges its members to send a letter to their legislators asking them to cosponsor the legislation. A letter can easily be sent here.

Senators Pledge Support for the Federal Community

This week, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-HI, along with 14 other cosponsors, introduced S. Res. 51, a resolution that promises “to oppose efforts to reduce federal workforce pay and benefits, eliminate civil service employment protections, undermine collective bargaining, and increase the use of nonfederal contractors for inherently governmental activities.” NARFE applauds the introduction of this resolution and supports efforts by legislators to protect the earned pay and benefits of America’s public servants.

The resolution lists five areas that the senators will challenge if brought forward either through legislation or the executive branch. The list includes eroding fair pay for federal employees, attempting to cut federal benefits, diminishing the strength of federal employee unions, reducing federal workers’ due process rights and increasing the use of contract labor. NARFE is concerned that legislation will be introduced that falls into one of these categories.

Sen. Hirono expressed support for the federal community, saying: “We have fewer federal workers than we had 50 years ago, and 85 percent of them work outside the beltway. They keep us safe, inspect our food and medicine, and preserve our national parks. They make a big difference in the lives of the people and communities they serve.”

The full text of the resolution can be found here. A letter asking your legislators to protect the federal community is available here.

Hotline on an As-Needed Basis Until March 3

Due to next week’s congressional recess, the Hotline will be published on an as-needed basis until March 3.

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.

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NARFE Headquarters, January 27, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Now that the ‘peaceful transition’ of power has taken place, NARFE is ramping up its efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees. This week started with the imposition of a federal hiring freeze by President Trump, followed by congressional discussions on reforming the civil service, the federal retirement system and the U.S. Postal Service. NARFE stands ready to vigorously fight in your defense, and I urge you to join us in letting lawmakers know that federal employees and retirees earned their benefits through service to the nation. Attacks on the federal community will not go unopposed.”

Federal Hiring Freeze in Effect

This week, President Trump signed an executive order calling for an immediate federal employee hiring freeze. This action temporarily prohibits agencies from selecting new hires until the Office of Management and Budget creates a plan within the next 90 days to reduce the size of the federal workforce through attrition, although the size of the reduction was not specified. The order also allows for federal agencies to make exemptions for positions deemed necessary to protect public safety and national security.

Those who received a job offer before January 22, who were provided confirmation from the agency, and who were given a start date of on or before February 22, 2017, will not lose their position. However, it is up to agency heads to determine whether appointments that do not meet these criteria will be honored or revoked. Based on the number of questions NARFE has received, it should be noted that civilian employee positions at the Department of Defense are included in this hiring freeze.

Like other federal employee advocacy groups, and based on historical assessments, NARFE opposes the freeze. The executive order relies on inaccurate assumptions and poses future negative consequences to the civil service. Previous federal hiring freezes were proven by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to undermine the efficiency of government operations by creating hiring backlogs and inadequate staffing levels. GAO also determined that previous freezes likely cost taxpayers more money due to the hiring of expensive contractors. Read NARFE’s full statement on the federal hiring freeze here.

 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Discusses Priorities

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held its organizational meeting this week to discuss the committee’s priorities and to adopt its official rules package. Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, detailed a long list of items that the committee will focus on during the 115th Congress. This list includes civil service reform, “modernizing” the federal retirement system, addressing postal reform and much more.

Chaffetz called for “long overdue civil service reform” to allow agencies to act swiftly and consistently to address employee behavioral issues. He then discussed eliminating the defined-benefit retirement program for new federal hires, suggesting that it be replaced with an employer defined-contribution plan (it should be noted that the civil service already has a defined-contribution plan -- the Thrift Savings Plan). Postal reform also surfaced in the meeting, with Chaffetz stating his intention to build on the work done in the previous Congress and to get a bill reintroduced and passed.

The recently imposed hiring freeze also was briefly mentioned, with Chaffetz standing behind the intended goal of the freeze, but noting that many agencies are in desperate need of more employees. Additional priorities included updating government IT systems, promoting federal transparency, and taking a deeper look into federal acquisition reform. A video recording of the meeting can be found here.

 Governors to President Trump: 'We Are Ready to Work With You'

Governors are eager to provide input as President Trump and the Republican Congress begin to pursue an ambitious policy agenda that could have serious ramifications for states. Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia and Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada emphasized that states, on a bipartisan basis, can work with the Trump administration. View a video of the 5th Annual State of the States Address here.

 Registration Deadline for the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference Two Weeks Away!

Are you ready to join the fight? Threats to the earned pay and benefits of federal employees and retirees have never been greater, now that the 115th Congress has convened. We encourage all NARFE members who want to advocate for federal employee and retiree interests to attend the NARFE Legislative Training Conference, especially those who hold a NARFE leadership role. A new, dynamic agenda has been unveiled to ensure NARFE members make the most of their time at the conference. To learn more, check out the previously recorded NARFE webinar, “Preparing for NARFE’s 2017 Legislative Training Conference” and review the draft agenda and conference logistics so you can be fully prepared.

This year’s conference will be held Sunday, March 12, through Wednesday, March 15, in Alexandria, VA, at the Hilton Mark Center. It includes training sessions, presentations by national speakers and the opportunity to network with fellow NARFE grassroots activists. The first two days of the conference will prepare you for your March 15 meetings with your legislators on Capitol Hill. The full agenda, including speakers, will be continuously updated as we finalize the program. For more information on the conference, including hotel information and fees, or to register for the conference, visit the NARFE website here. Questions? Contact the Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org. Hotel reservations must be made by February 10 to guarantee the NARFE room rate. Don’t delay!

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.

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NARFE Headquarters, January 13, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“With the presidential inauguration just one week away, America’s attention is focused on our nation’s capital. NARFE looks forward to continuing to serve as a trusted, unbiased source of information for President-elect Trump and his administration. Our advocacy efforts will continue on behalf of the five million federal employees and annuitants as well as their spouses and survivors. NARFE will remain vigilant of any attacks on the federal community and continue it's aggressive lobbying in defense of the its members."

NARFE and Lawmakers Urge President-Elect to Reconsider Federal Hiring Freeze

With NARFE’s support, 106 lawmakers signed Rep. Stephen F. Lynch’s, D-MA, letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him to reconsider implementing a hiring freeze on January 20. The President-elect announced his intention to freeze federal hiring in his “Contract with the American Voter” with the exception of the military, public safety officials and public health officers.

Citing a GAO report (the most recent on the subject), the letter noted that prior hiring freezes did not result in a smaller federal workforce and actually decreased efficiency, transparency and accountability. The letter also mentioned some of the 21st century challenges that an already stretched thin federal workforce will likely face.

A hiring freeze could hamper agency missions and prevent the best and brightest from entering public service. Detailed plans on a potential hiring freeze have not been released by Trump’s transition team. A copy of Rep. Lynch’s letter can be found here.

‘Uncharted Waters: Navigating the 115th Congress’ Webinar Recording Available

The 115th Congress just convened, and unprecedented threats to the earned pay and benefits of federal employees and retirees loom large. This week, NARFE’s legislative department hosted a webinar on the direct threats to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Thrift Savings Plan and the Postal Service, and how you can take action to protect what you’ve earned through a career in public service. If you were unable to watch the live webinar, you can join NARFE Legislative Director Jessica Klement and Deputy Director John Hatton via the archived video recording. Make sure you visit the NARFE website frequently to keep abreast of the issues facing the federal community during the 115th Congress, and be prepared to take action!

Register Today for the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference!

Threats to the earned pay and benefits of federal employees and retirees have never been greater now that the 115th Congress has convened. We encourage all NARFE members who want to advocate for federal employee and retiree interests to attend the Legislative Training Conference, especially those who hold a NARFE leadership role. To learn more about the conference, join NARFE’s Grassroots Program Manager Molly Checksfield on Tuesday, January 17, at 2 p.m. ET for a webinar, “Preparing for NARFE’s 2017 Legislative Training Conference.” Checksfield will review the draft agenda and conference logistics so you can be fully prepared before heading to D.C.

This year’s conference will be held Sunday, March 12, through Wednesday, March 15, in Alexandria, VA, at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center. It includes training sessions, presentations by national speakers and the opportunity to network with fellow NARFE grassroots activists. The first two days of the conference will prepare you for your March 15 meetings with your legislators on Capitol Hill. The full agenda, including speakers, is being updated as we finalize the program. For more information on the conference, including hotel information and fees, or to register for the conference, visit the NARFE website here. Questions? Contact the Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org.

Follow the Governor, Extend an Invitation to Your Convention

State governors are delivering their annual State of the State Addresses before joint sessions of their legislatures. Be sure to watch live or later read these addresses to make sure you remain an informed voter in your state. Be sure to follow the gubernatorial elections and read one handicapper’s predictions for 2017 and 2018. NARFE members have been mobilizing in their states to build relationships and influence state legislation that affects NARFE members. Extending an invitation to your federation convention is one great way to build and foster those relationships.

Hotline to Return January 27

NARFE Headquarters will be closed Monday, January 16, and Friday, January 20, due to the federal holiday and the presidential inauguration. NARFE will be open between those dates. The Hotline will return to its regular schedule on January 27.

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 January 13, 2017

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