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NEWS:

NARFE Headquarters, January 18, 2019

Message from NARFE President Ken Thomas:

“We find ourselves in uncharted waters as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history reached day 28 today. Congress and the president are stuck in a stalemate over how to complete their most basic duty: providing funding to keep the federal government open. Despite the American people overwhelmingly demanding that the government reopen, partisan divisions prevent productive negotiation. This political game of chicken has real consequences on people’s lives. Every day that this impasse continues, federal employees go without pay and are forced into difficult financial positions, critical government services go undelivered, and the economy is further damaged. A border security agreement is unlikely anytime soon. As long as the Senate remains unwilling to pursue House-passed funding bills and holds the federal government hostage, this nightmare will not end.

“Please call and write your senators to urge their support of House-passed funding legislation to end this shutdown immediately, send letters to the editors of local newspapers to inform your community, and share your shutdown story with NARFE so we can spread the word about how this shutdown is negatively affecting federal employees and our country.”

 Shutdown Extends, Senate Continues to Hold Up Funding Legislation

This week, the House of Representatives continued to push legislation to fund the government and end the shutdown. The House’s first attempt this week came in the form of a continuing resolution (CR) to reopen shuttered departments and agencies through February 1. With a final vote of 237-187, the chamber failed to pass the resolution by the two-thirds majority necessary for expedited passage under a suspension of the rules. On Wednesday, the House passed a $14 billion disaster aid bill including stopgap funding language to end the shutdown through February 8. House lawmakers then passed another CR on Thursday, which would have funded shuttered departments and agencies through February 28. Despite positive activity in the House, the Senate is still unwilling to pursue any legislation without President Trump’s approval and instead is holding the federal government and its dedicated employees captive as pawns in a separate debate. Call on your senators to stop playing political games and fund the government.

While the shutdown continues, hundreds of thousands of excepted and furloughed federal employees continue to go without pay. Legislation signed into law this week guarantees back pay for this and future shutdowns and provides much-appreciated certainty for the future, but does very little in the here and now when bills are due. Feds living paycheck to paycheck are stuck choosing which basic necessities are worth expending dwindling savings. Exacerbating matters, federal employees are slated to miss yet another paycheck next week if the shutdown persists. The reduced spending of federal employees and contractors and the lack of government services cause ripple effects throughout the economy. As long as this shutdown continues, Feds, the economy and the American people suffer the consequences.

NARFE applauds Congress and the president for passing and signing into law the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act to at least offer affected Feds certainty they will receive back pay as promptly as possible once the lapse in appropriations ends. Unfortunately, seven members of the House voted against this commonsense legislation to provide relief to struggling federal employees, demonstrating a disdain for federal employees and a lack of sympathy for their current distress. The representatives are: Reps. Justin R-MI; Andy Biggs, R-AZ; Paul Gosar, R-AZ; Glenn Grothman, R-WI; Thomas Massie, R-KY; Chip Roy, R-TX; and Ted Yoho, R-FL.

 Shutdown Resources

The government shutdown is bringing untold financial uncertainty to federal employees not receiving scheduled paychecks. To help, NARFE partnered with the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA) to offer $100 grants to active federal employee NARFE members who are not receiving a paycheck during the current shutdown as a result of being furloughed or working in excepted status. To apply, please click here. You will need to provide documentation of your furlough or excepted status. FEEA will contact you with any questions, and will let you know if your request is approved or denied. You must be a NARFE member in good standing and your membership status will be confirmed with NARFE.

For in-depth answers to your shutdown questions, watch the NARFE webinar “Shutdown: Get Answers – Take Action,” in which NARFE National President Ken Thomas and Staff Vice President for Advocacy Jessica Klement addressed a number of areas affecting the federal community, including pay, health care, personnel, retirement claims, unemployment and more. Local NARFE chapters should provide a link to this webinar on their websites to keep their members informed.

We know how difficult these unnecessary and avoidable shutdowns are. Rent, mortgages, monthly bills and daily living expenses remain while your paycheck does not. Rest assured, NARFE is working nonstop to spread the word to Congress and in the media. How is the government shutdown affecting you and your livelihood? If you are furloughed or excepted, we invite you to share your story.

For further information and steps you can take during the partial government shutdown, please visit NARFE’s Shutdown Central webpage. NARFE's Federal Benefits Institute is also available to answer specific questions regarding your situation at fedbenefits@narfe.org or by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 2.

Grassroots Corner: LEGcon19 Is Your Opportunity to Advocate

Each new Congress begins as a blank slate: New legislators settle into their positions and hire congressional staff, and Congress starts introducing new legislation. The beginning of the 116th Congress is an opportune time for NARFE members to build relationships with new and seasoned legislators and congressional staff and position NARFE as the go-to resource for the federal community. Register for LEGcon19 today to represent the federal community and address your concerns with the new Congress.

Conference attendees will hear from Fed-friendly legislators, participate in training about advocacy best practices and network with fellow NARFE members. On the last day, attendees meet with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of federal employees in the nation’s capital. You won’t want to miss this important event — register today! Questions about LEGcon19? Contact advocacy@narfe.org.

 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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Return to January 18, 2019

NARFE Headquarters, January 11, 2019

Message from NARFE President Ken Thomas:

“The partial government shutdown is now in its 21st day, tying the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Unfortunately, there is still no forward progress in reaching a funding agreement, and come tomorrow, this will be the longest shutdown in the history of the United States. Where does this leave the roughly 800,000 federal employees at shuttered departments and agencies? With this closure, whether furloughed or not, the first missed payday of the shutdown has officially arrived. Let there be no mistake, some federal employees, like many Americans, live paycheck to paycheck. A missed paycheck will force Feds into difficult financial situations such as damaged credit, delayed mortgage and rent payments, interest charges and more. Bills will arrive promptly, and you can bet not all creditors and landlords will be patient with the discordance of elected officials in Washington. It’s time for both sides to look towards consensus rather than political gamesmanship.

Tell your elected officials to set aside their partisanship and end the government shutdown immediately. Government shutdowns are incredibly hard on affected federal employees; please share your shutdown story with NARFE by clicking here. Also, quickly send a letter to the editors of your local newspapers to spread the word in your community about how the shutdown is harming you, your family, the federal government and our nation.”

Shutdown Resources

For in-depth answers to your shutdown questions, watch the NARFE webinar “Shutdown: Get Answers – Take Action,” in which NARFE National President Ken Thomas and Staff Vice President for Advocacy Jessica Klement addressed a number of areas affecting the federal community, including pay, health care, personnel, retirement claims, unemployment and more. Local NARFE chapters should provide a link to this webinar on their websites to keep their members informed.

The government shutdown is bringing untold financial uncertainty to federal employees not receiving scheduled paychecks. To help, NARFE partnered with the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund to offer $100 grants to active federal employee NARFE members who are not receiving a paycheck during the current shutdown as a result of being furloughed or working in excepted status. To apply, please click here. You will need to provide documentation of your furlough or excepted status. FEEA will contact you with any questions, and will let you know if your request is approved or denied. You must be a NARFE member in good standing and your membership status will be confirmed with NARFE.

For further information and steps you can take during the partial government shutdown, please visit NARFE’s Shutdown Central webpage. NARFE's Federal Benefits Institute is available to answer specific questions regarding your situation at fedbenefits@narfe.org or by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 2.

Shutdown Persists, Feds Caught in the Middle of Political Tug-of-War

This week, the House of Representatives employed a new tactic to pressure the Senate and president to reopen the government by passing fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) appropriations bills individually rather than as a spending package. The bills are identical to versions passed in the Senate last year on a bipartisan basis and the same as included in the six-bill minibus passed in the House last week, H.R. 21. Despite positive actions taken in the House, Senate leadership disappointingly remains unwilling to pass spending bills without the buy-in of President Trump and instead defers its legislative responsibilities and judgment to the president, whose administration expressed intent to veto these bills.

The Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, H.R. 264, was among the individual House bills and, like H.R. 21, it included an average 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees in 2019, rejecting the president’s desired pay freeze. NARFE supports the House’s efforts to enact a much-deserved federal pay raise, allow Feds to get back to work providing vital public services and ensure federal employees are paid as promptly as possible.

Supported by NARFE, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, S.24, unanimously passed the Senate yesterday and the House earlier today. President Trump indicated he will sign the bill into law to guarantee that both excepted and furloughed federal employees will be paid retroactively; it also stipulates that all employees should be paid as soon as possible after a shutdown ends rather than waiting for the next pay period. The provisions included in S. 24 would not only provide relief from the uncertainty of whether they will be paid or not to federal employees in this shutdown, but also in future shutdowns.

With the support of 22 lawmakers, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-HI, and Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-WA, introduced the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act. This new legislation would protect federal employees who are going without pay from the real life consequences of politically-driven shutdowns by prohibiting landlords and creditors from taking action against federal employees and contractors affected by the shutdown and empowering Feds to sue those who violate this prospective law. NARFE strongly supports this legislation as a means to protect federal employees from being punished with severe economic harms such as eviction, foreclosure, repossession of property, late student loan payments, late bill payments and loss of insurance due to late premium payments.

 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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Return to January 11, 2019

NARFE Headquarters, January 4, 2019

Message from NARFE President Ken Thomas:

“The partial government shutdown continues through its 14th day, disrupting the missions of the American government and threatening to strain the finances of hard-working federal employees, as next week’s paychecks will be delayed if the shutdown continues. Adding insult to injury the President issued an executive order last week to freeze federal pay rates for calendar year 2019. This ill-advised combination of shutdown and pay freeze hurts employee morale, undermines the competitiveness of the civil service in attracting and retaining top talent, and imperils the financial security of federal public servants and their families. That’s the bad news.

“The good news is that Congress has the power to end both the shutdown and pay freeze at any moment. So please call on your legislators to end the partial government shutdown and urge them to pass a much-deserved federal pay raise for 2019.”

President Trump Issues Order Freezing Federal Pay for 2019

On Friday December 28, President Trump issued an executive order implementing a federal pay freeze for calendar year 2019. Without congressional action, the pay freeze will remain in effect. NARFE derided the pay freeze and has repeatedly urged Congress to override the president and provide a modest pay raise.

House Acts to End Shutdown, Provide Modest Raise to Feds

On Thursday, January 3, the first day of the new Congress, the House of Representatives passed appropriations measures that would reopen the government and enact a federal pay raise for calendar year 2019.

The House passed a six-bill spending package, H.R. 21, consistent with bills approved in the Senate on a bipartisan basis (in committee or on the floor), which would provide nearly all shuttered departments and agencies with full-year appropriations in addition to providing a 1.9 percent average pay raise for federal employees in 2019. The House also passed a continuing resolution (CR), H.J.Res. 1, to fund the Homeland Security Department at fiscal year 2018 levels through February 8, allowing more time to negotiate over border security. The use of a stopgap measure for the Homeland Security Department would separate border wall funding disputes from the remaining appropriations bills that have garnered bipartisan support. However, Senate Republican leadership is unlikely to bring the measures to a vote without President Trump’s agreement.

NARFE President Ken Thomas is urging senators to approve the House-passed shutdown solution, adding to a series of previous NARFE actions calling on members of Congress to find a solution to end the shutdown and grant fair pay to federal employees. NARFE members should join his calls by weighing in to support an end to the partial government shutdown and the passage of a federal employee pay raise in 2019.

Without Senate action and presidential approval, the partial government shutdown will run into its third week. The shutdown continues to curtail operations and hundreds of thousands of federal employees continue to go without pay. Roughly 380,000 federal employees are furloughed without guaranteed back pay and approximately 420,000 are working without pay until funding is restored.

Meanwhile, amid the turmoil imposed on the federal workforce, senior Trump Administration political appointees can expect a raise of about $10,000 a year. Lawmakers are allowing the existing pay freeze for these senior officials to expire just as a pay freeze affecting all rank-and-file federal employees becomes effective and some 800,000 Feds don’t know when to expect their next paycheck.

Again, please do your part by contacting your members of Congress now, and tell them to end the government shutdown.

Shutdown Resources

With paychecks temporarily suspended for affected employees working through the shutdown, back pay for furloughed employees uncertain and mounting confusion, federal employees should be aware of every available resource to help them through this challenging time. Please visit the NARFE website for information and steps you can take during the partial government shutdown. You can also contact the NARFE Federal Benefits Institute for further information at fedbenefits@narfe.org or by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 2.

Senators Reintroduce Bill to Provide Back Pay for Feds Affected by Shutdowns

On the first day of the Congress, January 3, senators Ben Cardin, D-MD, Susan Collins, R-ME, and 28 Senate colleagues reintroduced legislation to protect federal workers from the repercussions of this and future government shutdowns. S. 24, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, would guarantee that furloughed federal employees will be paid retroactively and stipulates that all employees should be paid as soon as possible after a shutdown ends. The bill also clarifies that excepted employees who have scheduled previously approved leave occurring during a shutdown may indeed take that leave without being penalized. While bills passed by the House would also ensure back pay for furloughed federal employees, S. 24 would apply to this and future shutdowns, giving Feds relief from the uncertainty of whether they would be paid or not.

The 116th Congress Begins

The 116th Congress commenced as of January 3 this week. Congress is now divided, with the House coming under Democratic control and the Senate remaining under Republican control. House Democrats control the chamber by a margin of 235 to 199. Senate Republicans retain charge of the upper chamber by a margin of 53 to 47 with two independent lawmakers caucusing with the Democrats. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, remains the Senate Majority Leader and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, remains the Senate Minority Leader. On Thursday, the House voted for the chamber’s new Speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA. House Speaker is a position of considerable influence over the House’s operations and the legislative agenda. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD, now holds the position of House Majority Leader and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, now holds the position of House Minority Leader.

Since House members are elected to two-year terms, the House is not a continuing body and needs to adopt the chamber’s rules of procedure with the beginning of each new Congress. The House voted on Thursday to establish the chamber’s rules for the 116th Congress through H.Res. 6. As usual, the new rules package is largely the same as the previous Congress with a few changes. Notably, the rules package did not include the Holman Rule, which allows for floor amendments to appropriations legislation that eliminate a federal position, reduce the number of employees at an agency or cut the salary of an individual federal employee or group of employees. Also, the rules package changed the name of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal workforce issues, to the Oversight and Reform Committee. Unlike the House, Senators are elected to staggered six-year terms with only one-third of Senators up for election for each new Congress, making the Senate a continuing body and precluding the need to adopt new rules at the beginning of a new Congress.

Committee assignments for both chambers are yet to be decided, but typically carry over from one Congress to the next. Assignments are determined by each party and are approved by each respective chamber in the form of simple resolutions. The new Congress also means a clean slate for legislation, so all bills from the 115th Congress will need to be reintroduced.

Grassroots Corner

As the 116th Congress starts in full swing, it has never been more timely to register for LEGcon19 and commit to enhancing your advocacy skills so that you can combat any threats to your earned pay and benefits that will arise during this new Congress.

LEGcon19 will take place March 10-13, 2019, at the Mark Center Hilton Hotel in Alexandria, VA. Hundreds of NARFE members from across the nation will converge to enhance their advocacy knowledge and take NARFE’s message straight to legislators on Capitol Hill. Attend training sessions to help you master the art of congressional meetings, take a deep dive into important policy issues, and raise your voice against cuts to the pay and benefits you earned through years of dedicated service to your country.

After registering for LEGcon19, don’t forget to book your hotel room at the NARFE rate of $175 per night plus tax. For online hotel booking and information click here. Additional information about the conference is available on the LEGcon19 website. If you have any questions about conference registration or the hotel, please contact events@narfe.org. If you have any other questions, please contact the Advocacy Department at advocacy@narfe.org. We look forward to seeing you at the conference.

 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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Return to January 4, 2019