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NARFE Headquarters, February 8, 2019

Message from NARFE President Ken Thomas:

“Policy disagreements are a natural part of democracy. But that doesn’t mean we should allow dysfunction between Congress and the president to spill into the lives of nonpartisan civil servants tasked with protecting our nation. Yet the recent 35-day shutdown turned the livelihoods of Feds into leverage in political squabbles. That is unequivocally inappropriate.

“Now, even with the recent shutdown ended, the prospect of another remains. Meanwhile, federal employee pay remains frozen, and federal retirees continue to face proposals threatening to cut their earned benefits.

“We can only address these challenges, and start to change the narrative producing them, through a concerted, organized effort. That’s why I urge you to join me at LEGcon19 next month, and work to change dangerous misperceptions about who federal employees and retirees are and about the important work you have done for your country.”

FAIR Act Reintroduced

Yesterday Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-VA, and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-HI, reintroduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act in the 116th Congress. This legislation would provide a much needed 3.6 percent boost to federal pay in calendar year 2020. Legislation like the FAIR Act is necessary to close the growing gap between federal and private-sector pay as well as stave off the possibility of another pay freeze next year. If federal pay continues to lag behind that of private-sector workers, the federal government will face increasingly difficult challenges in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest and maintaining the world-class federal workforce we presently enjoy. NARFE fully supports this legislation and will advocate alongside Connolly and Schatz for its passage. You can take action as a NARFE member by sending letters to your representatives in Congress urging them to cosponsor this important legislation.

The disparity between public- and private-sector pay has reached 32 percent, according to the Federal Salary Council, as private-sector wages continue to climb with a booming economy. This compensation gap was thoroughly exacerbated by the three years of federal pay freezes between 2011 and 2013, subsequent years of inadequate raises, sequestration-related furloughs in 2013, and increased retirement contributions for newly hired Feds with no corresponding benefits increases. It continues to widen, given the 2019 pay freeze NARFE is currently fighting to override with the support of our allies in Congress. Congress should augment federal compensation consistent with the dedicated and high-level work performed by civil servants to fight crime and protect national security, ensure a safe food supply, care for veterans, protect environmental quality, help communities recover after natural disasters and much more.

Attempts to Reach Compromise and Avoid another Shutdown Continue .

With time running out, this week Congress continued efforts to avoid yet another destructive government shutdown on February 16, when temporary funding runs dry for departments and agencies that have yet to receive full fiscal year 2019 appropriations. Conferees to the Homeland Security Department appropriations conference committee continued talks to find a mutually agreeable conclusion to the primary appropriations sticking point: border security funding. Some members expressed optimism that a bipartisan deal can be achieved before the looming deadline. Conferees need to pass a conference report with enough time to subsequently clear a spending package in both chambers and receive a signature from the president, who continues to demand border wall funding. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said he wants conferees to reach a spending agreement without regard for the White House’s staunch position, breaking from his past preference not to advance any legislation without President Trump’s approval.

If elected officials fail to reach a compromise, we could experience another shutdown brought on by a stubborn political standoff come February 16. The previous shutdown was the longest in U.S. history and caused extensive economic hardship for federal employees, interrupted critical government services and cost the economy billions of dollars. Working- and middle-class Feds were compelled to go without badly needed paychecks for over a month. Those who work paycheck to paycheck wondered if they would be able to afford basic necessities for their families. Another appropriations lapse on top of the recent 35-day shutdown would only further damage workforce morale and cause many to question a career path in the federal government, impeding recruitment and retention of top talent. NARFE urges lawmakers to find middle ground and prioritize the continued full operation of the federal government. Should there be delays in reaching a funding agreement, lawmakers should pass another short-term continuing resolution to provide more breathing room for negotiations rather than allow the government to lapse back into a shutdown.

If elected officials do reach a deal, a final spending package could carry a modest federal pay raise for 2019. Do your part to make this happen by telling your legislators to override the president’s pay freeze and enact a 2019 federal pay raise.

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 members of Congress introduce 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. Already, NARFE is expecting legislators including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, Reps. Derek Kilmer, Jamie Raskin, Anthony Brown, Matthew Cartwright, and Abigail Spanberger to take part in LEGcon19. 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 February 8, 2019

NARFE Headquarters, February 1, 2019

Message from NARFE President Ken Thomas:

“Although the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history finally ended, we can’t ignore the fact that 800,000 federal employees were shamefully deployed as political pawns for 35 days straight. I thank NARFE’s members for sending in their shutdown stories to share with legislators and the nation on just how much the shutdown hurt the federal community and the American people. Such stories are powerful and persuasive, reminding lawmakers that political games in Washington inflict real damage upon real people across the country. Now I invite you to come and share your story with members of Congress face-to-face.

 “Please join me and your fellow NARFE members by registering for LEGcon19 to continue telling the federal story and pushing NARFE’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. Together we can fight back the all-too-common attacks on federal pay and benefits and ensure elected officials treat the federal community with due respect for their selfless contributions that keep Americans safe and healthy. LEGcon19 is an opportunity to hone our advocacy skills and prevent Feds from becoming collateral damage in separate political fights in the future. Act now, using the promo code ‘HOTLINE,’ and take advantage of 10 percent off your LEGcon19 registration between now and the end of February 4.”

Don’t Delay! 10 Percent off LEGcon19 Registration

Use the promo code “HOTLINE” for 10 percent off your LEGcon19 registration fee. Act fast, because this offer will only be available through Monday, February 4.

Each new Congress begins as a blank slate: New legislators settle into their positions and hire congressional staff, and members of Congress start introducing new legislation. Unfortunately, this new Congress inherited and continued the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history. Now that it’s over, the legislating will start in earnest. 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 using the promo code "HOTLINE" for 10 percent off the registration fee.

Questions about LEGcon19? Contact advocacy@narfe.org.

2019 Pay Raise Legislation Passes House, Introduced in Senate

House lawmakers passed the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act, H.R. 790, this week by a vote of 259-161 to grant federal civilian employees a 2.6 percent pay raise for 2019, effective with the date of passage. NARFE ardently supports this legislation and sent a letter to members of the House urging them to vote in favor of the bill. If signed into law, Feds would receive the same pay raise as uniformed military personnel in 2019, which was tied to increases in private-sector wages. Furthermore, the legislation would annul the executive order President Trump issued back in December to freeze federal pay.

Giving a market-rate federal pay raise further traction, a coalition of senators, including Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD, Ben Cardin, D-MD, Tim Kaine, D-VA, Mark Warner, D-VA, and Brian Schatz, D-HI, introduced companion legislation in the upper chamber, S. 262.  After the pernicious effects of the shutdown on federal employees and years of previous pay freezes and inadequate raises, many legislators claim a pay increase higher than the previously championed, bipartisan-supported 1.9 percent raise is necessary to begin repairing damaged workforce morale. Although the bill passed the House this week, it remains unclear how it will fare in the Senate.

Despite lawmakers’ bipartisan push to include a 1.9 percent federal pay raise in recent appropriations bills before and during the shutdown, negotiations were derailed by the border wall standoff. Federal employee morale is depressed in the wake of the shutdown, and to maintain the world-class federal workforce we currently enjoy, Congress must provide federal workers with a pay raise in line with trends in the private sector. Otherwise, lawmakers can expect an exodus of highly talented individuals currently occupying in-demand positions because they are tired of being underappreciated and used as political scapegoats. Congress can and should exercise its authority to override the president’s unfair pay freeze and give the federal workforce the pay raise they are due.

Contact your representatives in Congress today and ask they support a 2019 federal pay raise.

Full-Year Funding Negotiations Commence in Effort to Avert another Shutdown

In the aftermath of the nation’s longest government shutdown, lawmakers this week launched into negotiations over full fiscal year 2019 (FY19) funding for departments and agencies currently funded through February 15. A bipartisan funding agreement is necessary to avert another shutdown that would again rattle the lives of federal workers, their families and the American people. To reach this agreement, House and Senate legislators commenced conference committee meetings to negotiate over the main funding sticking point, Homeland Security Department appropriations.

The shutdown financially squeezed federal employees, cost the American economy billions of dollars and denied people the vital government services on which they rely. We cannot allow the government to regress back into a shuttered state come February 16, which would drop federal employees and contractors right back into severe financial hardship. Lawmakers and the president need to prioritize a fully operational government and not use government services and federal employees as bargaining chips to advance other policy agendas.

Legislative Accomplishments

Significantly damaging proposals to the federal community’s earned pay and benefits arose during the 115th Congress (2017-2018). NARFE and its members served as a protective barrier between those proposals and Feds everywhere. Despite the numerous threats, NARFE also worked to advance opportunities for the federal community instead of simply playing a defensive role. Take a look back at highlights of NARFE’s legislative accomplishments in the previous Congress by clicking here. For a look towards the current Congress, click here to see NARFE’s Advocacy Program for the 116th Congress.

 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 February 1, 2019

NARFE Headquarters, January 25, 2019

Message from NARFE President Ken Thomas:

“Earlier today, President Trump announced his support for a bipartisan three-week stopgap funding deal to finally reopen shuttered departments and agencies. This is welcome news, as passage of a continuing resolution (CR) will give much-needed relief to 800,000 federal workers who have suffered greatly without pay through this 35-day shutdown, the longest in U.S. history. Many federal workers live paycheck to paycheck and are not able to make it through lengthy periods without pay. I urge the president and Congress to follow through with this temporary deal and then find a permanent solution so we don’t find ourselves here again three weeks from now. Shutdowns are not a game, but instead have harsh real-world consequences for Feds and all Americans.

“This shutdown is just another example of the federal community unfairly taking it on the chin as political scapegoats. Join me at LEGcon19 so together we can take NARFE’s message to legislators on Capitol Hill and rewrite the tired old narrative of federal employees being targeted time and again. LEGcon19 is our opportunity to become highly effective advocates to stand up for ourselves and all Feds.”

Temporary Deal to End Shutdown Announced

This afternoon, President Trump declared his willingness to sign a continuing resolution (CR) to temporarily bring this unprecedented government shutdown to an end through February 15 without increased southern border wall funding. This tentative bipartisan deal will provide breathing room for further negotiations and finally deliver federal employees back pay and get them back to work for the American people. It is vital that lawmakers pass this legislation with great haste and supply Feds with the relief they so desperately need. With two missed paychecks, many Feds are feeling severe financial pressure and cannot afford to wait any longer.

At the time of this newsletter, it appears the House and Senate will approve the legislation today and swiftly get the CR to the President’s desk, getting Feds back to work on Monday. The timing of when back pay will be provided is still uncertain and will vary by agency.

NARFE’s Shutdown Central webpage will remain active as a resource through this time of uncertainty. We will continuously update the page with the latest information and news from NARFE.

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 members of Congress introduce 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.

Return to top news

Return to January 25, 2019