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, July 13, 2018

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Paid parental leave for America’s civil service employees is a long-overdue personnel policy. The prevailing lack of paid parental leave for civilian federal employees is out of sync with longstanding private-sector practices and the rest of the industrialized world. It is also smart human-resources management to boost the recruitment and retention of a well-qualified federal workforce, and helps maintain morale and productivity. I thank Rep. Barbara Comstock for introducing the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2018. NARFE members should contact their legislators and urge them to cosponsor this bill.”

New Paid Parental Leave Bill Introduced

On June 28, Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-VA, introduced H.R. 6275, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2018. This legislation would provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid leave to care for their new child in the event of a birth, adoption or foster placement.

Fixing federal parental-leave policy is necessary to remain competitive in today’s job market. Currently, federal employees must use their accrued vacation time and sick days or sacrifice pay to take time off to care for their new child. Most large private-sector companies offer paid parental leave to their employees, and this disparity is driving candidates away from public service. Offering competitive benefits is imperative for the government to continue recruiting and retaining top young talent into the ranks of the federal workforce. This is true now more than ever as we are on the cusp of a considerable federal retirement wave as more employees reach retirement eligibility.

As the largest employer in the country, the federal government should be a model employer that reflects the value we as a nation place on family and parenting. Presently, the United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not offer its civil service some form of paid parental leave. It is important that NARFE members contact their representatives and senators in support of H.R. 6275, as well as the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2017, H.R. 1022 and S. 362.

On July 11, the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy held a hearing, titled “Examining the Importance of Paid Family Leave for American Working Families.” Subcommittee members and witnesses explored the merits, potential funding methods and potential policy implementation methods of enacting a national paid family-leave plan for parental leave and medical leave. However, the bills that are specifically focused on the federal workforce were not mentioned in the hearing.

Don’t Miss Out on Important Advocacy Training

FEDCon18 is right around the corner. Be sure to join us in Jacksonville, Florida, August 26-28, to participate in an entire track of advocacy best-practices sessions. The presentations will be loaded with valuable advice on how to maximize your NARFE advocacy efforts, spread awareness, become a leader in your federation and combat future threats to the federal community.

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to learn, lead and advocate; it only comes along once every two years. To encourage our top advocates to attend, we are offering you a special promotion for $25 off registration by using the code FEDCONADV.

At FEDCon18, among the 30 sessions and workshops, NARFE experts will deliver Advocacy training and updates on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Legislative Update and Preview of the 116th Congress: A close inspection of legislation and policies threatening the security of current and retired Feds
  • People Matter in Politics: A review of why grassroots advocacy is essential to success, and how you can bolster your congressional outreach using NARFE resources
  • NARFE-PAC 101: How NARFE-PAC, NARFE’s political arm, helps change the perception of Feds and protect what you have rightfully earned
  • Advocacy Responsibilities 101:Suggestions for how to use your leadership position to spread the NARFE message and engage NARFE members
  • Getting Out of a Grassroots Slump: Out-of-the-box ideas for how to take action and foster deeper connections with legislators
  • The Power of Storytelling: How to become a more engaging storyteller and best utilize your voice – one of the most powerful tools to engage and persuade

But that’s not all: As the contentious November congressional elections draw near, are you in the know about the key races taking place across the country? Get the latest from Daniel A. Smith, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, at the NARFE-PAC breakfast during FEDCon18 to make sure you’re up to date. Join your fellow NARFE members for this must see presentation, “Election 2018: Is a ‘Blue Wave’ Coming? Where Will It Crash?”

Your attendance helps support NARFE-PAC during this critical time for the federal community. NARFE members may attend the breakfast by making a $125 contribution to NARFE-PAC. NARFE-PAC sustaining members or those who have contributed $250 or more during the cycle are eligible to register free of charge. For more information, contact Ross Apter atRapter@narfe.org.

Space for the breakfast is limited. Don’t miss out! Register today by going here.

Grassroots Corner

In just over two weeks, NARFE’s Grassroots Advocacy Month – August – will begin. Are you prepared to take action to prevent cuts to your earned pay and benefits?

Next week’s Advocacy webinar will guide you through the process of taking action during the August congressional recess – from building a meeting agenda to sending a thank-you letter afterward. Webinar attendees will be the first to learn about new documents being developed to support members’ advocacy activities and will review the “Big 3” legislative priorities to be addressed with legislators. Grassroots Program Manager Molly Checksfield will go over all the materials available to make the most of this recess. RSVP today to ensure you are ready to hit the ground running when it’s time to engage with your legislator.

The “Grassroots Advocacy Month A - Z” webinar, including Q&A, will air on Tuesday, July 17, at 2 p.m. ET. Registration for this live event is limited to the first 1,000 registrants, so click here to register now!

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, June 29, 2018

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“I have many reservations about the administration’s proposed reorganization plan. NARFE will continue to call out issues as the plan continues to receive congressional attention. The merging of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the Executive Office of the President (EOP) raises red flags when it comes to maintaining a non-politicized, merit-based civil service, especially within an administration that has targeted the earned pay and benefits of our dedicated federal workforce. NARFE stands staunchly opposed to any effort to privatize the postal service, which could threaten its employees and the great services they currently provide our nation.”

House Committee Examines Administration’s Reorganization Plan

This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing, titled “Examining the Administration’s Government-wide Reorganization Plan,” with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert serving as the committee’s witness.

In advance of the hearing, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen sent a letter to the committee sharing NARFE’s views and concerns on the reorganization plan. Among these concerns is a fear that transferring federal personnel policy from OPM to the EOP might expose the federal civil service to politicization, which could prove detrimental to career civil servants. Placing civil service policy under the White House is particularly troubling in light of the disdain the administration has shown for career civil servants and the egregious cuts that have been proposed to the earned pay and benefits of the federal community.

Thissen also warned that moving OPM’s remaining programmatic functions, such as administration of retirement and health benefits, to a newly-named Government Services Agency raises concerns that these important functions will not receive the attention they are due. Additionally, the letter expressed NARFE’s strong opposition to the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which would undermine the universal services provided by the postal service for over a century and threaten the jobs, pay, benefits and retirement security of hard working postal employees.

Members of the committee echoed many of NARFE’s concerns during the hearing. They expressed displeasure with the lack of analysis regarding the impacts of the reorganization plan overall, including its impact on federal employees specifically. Various members articulated unease with the proposed transfer of OPM functions to the EOP, as this could potentially pull the civil service and human resources policy decision-making into an environment of partisanship and politicization. Numerous members of the committee expressed concerns with OMB’s call to privatize the postal service, saying the administration has not done its due diligence of engaging with USPS prior to this recommendation. Furthermore, members pressed that this recommendation did not account for the unusual prefunding requirement placed on the postal service as a main cause of the agency’s unfunded liabilities and financial woes.

In reaction to the reorganization plan, Sens. Ron Johnson, R-WI, and James Lankford, R-OK, introduced S. 3137, the Reforming Government Act of 2018. This bill would provide the administration with the authority to make structural changes at agencies that result in cost savings. NARFE will continue to push for the full congressional oversight of reorganization proposals to ensure the administration is not given free reign and unchecked latitude.

Reintroduction of Postal Reform Legislation

On June 12, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, introduced H.R. 6076, the Postal Reform Act of 2018,with the support of Reps. Steve Russel, R-OK; Dennis Ross, R-FL; Gerry Connolly, D-VA; Elijah Cummings, D-MD; and Stephen Lynch, D-MA. This bill serves as a replacement for H.R. 756, the Postal Reform Act of 2017, which was introduced by former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, and passed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR). Aside from a couple of minor changes, the bill is largely identical to its predecessor. Since the previous bill was already approved by the committee, the introduction of H.R. 6076 allows the committee an opportunity to make changes to the legislation after the recommendations by the President’s Task Force on the Postal Service are released.

NARFE maintains the same opposition to H.R. 6076 that it did to H.R. 756. Like the original bill, the new version contains the unfair provision that would mandate postal retirees enroll in Medicare Part B in order to maintain their earned Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program coverage. Roughly 76,000 postal retirees elected not to enroll in Medicare Part B when they were eligible. Despite having previously declined such coverage, these postal retirees would have to pay an additional $1,600 or more a year in premiums under this provision. This sets a dangerous precedent by changing retirement benefits in retirement. Please contact your lawmakers in opposition to the Postal Reform Act, H.R. 6076, H.R. 756 and S. 2629.

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Strikes Down DOL Fiduciary Rule

On June 21, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals made effective its March 15 decision to strike down the Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule. As a strong advocate of the DOL fiduciary rule and the full protections it provided to investors, NARFE is incredibly disappointed by this ruling. The rule would have added protections to the hard-earned retirement savings of all Americans, including federal employees and retirees with regard to their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) accounts.

Under the DOL fiduciary rule, financial advisers were subject to a “best interest” standard when recommending rollovers of assets into individual retirement accounts (IRAs), including rollovers from the TSP. This circuit court ruling is a big hit for federal employees and retirees receiving advice regarding their TSP holdings. Now, the previous “suitability” standard will remain in place, which allows financial advisers to provide recommendations that serve their own interests instead of their clients’. Because rollovers are not covered by the suitability standard, financial advisers legally can recommend that TSP account holders roll over their TSP holdings into an IRA, where the money could be invested in a mutual fund providing the same, or essentially similar, product, such as an S&P 500 index fund, for as much as 20 times the cost.

Appropriations Update

Appropriations season is underway on Capitol Hill, with appropriators wasting no time trying to finish up work before the August congressional recess. On June 25, the Senate passed H.R. 5895, a minibus appropriations bill that included three appropriations measures: the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the Legislative Branch appropriations bills. H.R. 5895 was approved by an 86-5 margin and is the first FY19 appropriations legislation to be passed by the Senate. The Senate minibus provides $145.64 billion total in base discretionary funding for these activities in FY19.

The House already passed its version of these bills in a minibus, also H.R. 5895, on June 8. The House version provides a total of $145.4 billion in discretionary funding for these activities in FY19.

Grassroots Corner

You send action letters and make phone calls. But do you feel your concerns are falling on deaf ears in your legislators’ offices? In the May Advocacy Webinar, attendees learned the most effective strategies to influence legislators on issues affecting the federal community. Chances are you might be doing something that could detract from your message – or not doing something that could be very helpful.

Did you miss the “Are You Getting Your Legislator’s Attention?” May Advocacy Webinar hosted by NARFE’s Grassroots Program Manager Molly Checksfield? The webinar has been archived and is available on the NARFE website only for NARFE members.

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 June 29, 2018

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NARFE Headquarters, June 22, 2018

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“President Trump’s proposed pay freeze unfairly singles out and hurts hardworking middle-class civil servants during a time of economic strength for our country. I applaud the Senate Appropriations Committee for including a 1.9 percent federal pay raise in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. A federal pay raise enacted by Congress is the only way we can prevent President Trump’s proposed pay freeze from taking effect. NARFE’s efforts are paying off. Please continue to contact your legislators and urge them to support the 1.9 percent pay increase and reject the president’s plan to freeze federal pay.”

Civilian Federal Pay Raise Included in Appropriations Bill

On June 18, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen and NARFE Oklahoma Federation President Randy Freeland sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Chairman James Lankford, R-OK, requesting a 2019 pay increase for the federal workforce. The letter specifically requests that the money be appropriated through the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which originates in the chairman’s subcommittee.

On June 19, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government approved the $23.688 billion fiscal year 2019 (FY19) Financial Services and Government Appropriations bill. The bill includes a modest 1.9 percent pay increase for civilian federal employees in calendar year 2019. This matches the raise provided to civilian federal employees this year. On Thursday, the bill was considered by the full Senate Appropriations Committee markup, where an amendment, offered by Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, to strike the 1.9 percent raise was soundly defeated, with all members of the committee voting against it except for two. It is unclear when the bill will be considered by the full Senate. The companion House bill did not contain a raise for federal employees.

President Trump has stated his intention to freeze federal pay in 2019. This is the one component of the president’s FY19 budget proposal that he can enact without congressional approval. If Congress does not approve a pay raise, federal pay will unfairly remain stagnant while the economy continues to grow and private-sector wages continue to rise. Ask your lawmakers to reject the president’s proposed 2019 pay freeze and support a 1.9 percent pay increase for the federal workforce.

Government Reorganization Plan Released

On Thursday, the Trump administration released its wide-ranging government reorganization plan: “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations.” This plan includes a large-scale proposal to shift the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) functions to other government agencies. The proposal would transfer OPM’s human resources policy function to the Executive Office of the President (EOP). Most programmatic responsibilities will be transferred to the General Services Administration (GSA), which would be renamed Government Services Agency – retirement services, healthcare and insurance and human resources solutions. Security clearance services currently performed by the National Background Investigations Bureau will be transferred to the Department of Defense.

The reorganization plan also offers a proposal to restructure the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to, “return [USPS] to a sustainable business model or prepare it for future conversion from a government agency into a privately-held corporation.” The proposal states that the President’s Task Force on the USPS will release recommendations for reforms toward this goal in August of 2018. NARFE opposes any efforts to privatize the Postal Service.

Under the president’s proposed government reorganization plan, it’s possible that important programs such as the federal retirement and health benefits of more than 5 million federal employees and retirees will receive less attention, or worse, could become politicized. Proposals of this scale need to go through Congress before any actions can be taken. This was recently bolstered in the FY18 omnibus approved in March, which prohibited agencies from cutting or eliminating programs or offices without congressional approval. NARFE is urging Congress to give careful and thoughtful deliberation to these recommendations so that administration of earned federal benefits programs continues to be a priority and receive adequate funding.

The House Begins Work on a New Budget

This week, the House Budget Committee approved an FY19 budget, titled “A Brighter American Future.” But this budget would not be brighter for federal employees and retirees. The budget plan contains many of the same cuts to federal retirement benefits seen in previous budgets as well as the president’s FY19 budget proposal.

According to a blueprint of the budget plan, federal employees would be required to make greater contributions to their own defined benefit retirement plans. Additionally, the budget would eliminate the FERS Annuity Supplement, which offers retirees financial security during the years between retirement and Social Security eligibility. The budget further calls for “parity” between federal employees and private-sector employees through “transitioning to defined contribution plans.” The resolution requires the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to identify at least $32 billion in cuts to programs under its jurisdiction, cuts that would largely come from federal retirement benefits, as the Committee has limited options under its purview.

It is unclear whether House leadership will allow this budget to undergo a floor vote. Nonetheless, this budget plan expresses the priorities of some lawmakers in Congress. It is clear that there is still a strong sentiment among some to reduce the earned pay and benefits of the federal community. Contact your legislators and urge them to reject any proposed cuts to the earned pay and benefits of federal employees and retirees. NARFE will continue to closely monitor all budget developments for threats to the federal community.

Grassroots Corner

Join us at FEDCon18 in Jacksonville, Florida, August 26-28, to participate in an entire track of advocacy best practices sessions loaded with valuable advice on how you can utilize grassroots strategies to combat future threats and turn Fed-friendly legislators into NARFE champions.

At FEDcon18, among the 30 sessions and workshops, NARFE experts will deliver Advocacy training including:

  • Legislative Update and Preview of the 116th Congress: A close inspection of legislation and policies threatening the security of current and retired Feds
  • People Matter in Politics: A review of why grassroots advocacy is essential to success, and how you can bolster your congressional outreach using NARFE resources
  • NARFE-PAC 101: How NARFE-PAC, NARFE’s political arm, helps change the perception of Feds and protect what you have rightfully earned Advocacy Responsibilities 101
  • (new and emerging leaders): Suggestions for how to use your leadership position to spread the NARFE message and engage NARFE members
  • Getting Out of a Grassroots Slump: Out-of-the-box ideas for how to take action and foster deeper connections with legislators
  • The Power of Storytelling: How to become a more engaging storyteller and best utilize your voice – one of the most powerful tools to engage and persuade

Will you be in Jacksonville August 26-28?

Register Today!

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 June 22, 2018

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