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 Legislative Hotline, May 22, 2015

Message From NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

On behalf of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, I salute America's men and women in uniform in recognition of Memorial Day. Our nation’s federal employees long have had the privilege of serving alongside members of the armed forces at home and abroad. We stand in solidarity with them and honor the loss and sacrifice of our uniformed colleagues. To America’s servicemen and women, who continue to make the ultimate sacrifice, a grateful nation thanks you.

House Committee Discusses FECA Reform

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on May 20 to discuss ways of reforming the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Enacted in 1916, FECA was established to provide federal employees compensation for medical expenses and wages lost due to job-related injuries or illnesses.

The hearing focused on reforms proposed by the Department of Labor, including noncontroversial modernizations and program integrity measures, which have received broad bipartisan support, and controversial benefit reductions for injured federal workers. Reform proposals discussed at the hearing may be included in budget reconciliation legislation reported out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

NARFE supports the proposed modernizations and program integrity measures, but strongly opposes the DOL proposals to reduce FECA benefits at retirement age. NARFE President Richard G. Thissen submitted written testimony for the record to that end, which you can read here.

Civil Service Reform Hearing Held in Senate

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management held a hearing titled, “21st Century Ideas for the 20th Century Federal Civil Service.”

Subcommittee Chairman James Lankford, R-OK, led the May 20 hearing, joined by Ranking Member Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND. Recognizing the need for civil service reform, the senators solicited ideas on a variety of topics, including rewarding high performers, making it easier to remove poor performers and providing better managerial training.

In a letter to the subcommittee, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen provided general recommendations for modernizing the federal civil service system. The letter is available on the NARFE website, here.

Consumer Prices Increase in April

Relevant to the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) to civil service annuities for 2016, the April Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is 231.520, a one-month increase of 0.20 percent. With five months remaining in the measurement year, the CPI-W has decreased 1.16 percent from the 2014 third-quarter average base index. If the third-quarter average of 2015 remains below the 2014 third-quarter average, retirees would not receive a COLA for 2016. Of interest to FECA beneficiaries, the April CPI-W figure is 0.70 percent higher than the December 2014 CPI-W figure.

The May CPI-W figure will be released June 18. For NARFE’s full COLA update, click here.

No Legislative Hotline Next Week

The House and Senate will be in recess next week for the Memorial Day holiday, and therefore will be no Legislative Hotline on Friday, May 29. The Hotline will return June 5.

 Accessing the Legislative Action Center

NARFE members can use the Legislative Action Center (LAC) as the hub to send letters to your members of Congress and track NARFE-related bills and votes. NARFE frequently updates the LAC, so check back often.

Return to May 22, 2015

Return to top news

NARFE Legislative Hotline, May 15, 2015

Message From NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Though the federal community was left ultimately unscathed in the most recent budget resolution, federal employees’ and retirees’ pay and benefits are still a target for legislators. Congress has a number of upcoming deadlines and legislative priorities that will require ‘pay fors’ and it’s likely it will return to the federal community piggy bank. We must continue to defend our earned pay and benefits. More information on how to do so is given below.”

Tell Congress the Federal Community Has Done Its Fair Share

Congress recently wrapped up a budget process in which federal employees and retirees were targeted for $318 billion in cuts. The federal community has already sacrificed $120 billion toward deficit reduction over the last several years. With other upcoming funding deadlines, including the extension of highway funding, the federal community will remain a target.

Congress needs to know that enough is enough. Send a letter to urge your members of Congress to reject any proposal that uses cuts to the federal community to pay for unrelated priorities.

TSP Bill for Public Safety Workers Passes House

The Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act, H.R. 2146, easily passed the House this week. The bill reforms the tax code so federal public safety employees, who are eligible to retire earlier than other federal employees, would not be subject to the 10 percent tax penalty on their Thrift Savings Plan accounts if they access them before age 59 1/2. The bill applies to federal law enforcement officers, Customs and Border Protection officers, federal firefighters and air traffic controllers, all of whom have mandatory retirement ages.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-WA, and passed the House on a 407-5 vote. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-PA, and Michael Bennet, D-CO, introduced a similar bill in the Senate, the Federal Public Safety Retirement Fairness Act, S. 969, which is pending in committee.

Bill to Improve FEHBP Drug Pricing Reintroduced

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-MA, introduced legislation this week to provide the Office of Personnel Management greater oversight authority over the prescription drug contracting and pricing methods of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). NARFE supports the bill (FEHBP Prescription Drug Oversight and Cost Savings Act, H.R. 2175) as an effort to keep costs for FEHBP participants and taxpayers under control.

An Update on Appropriations and Authorization Bills

Two appropriations bills, funding the Department of Energy and the Department of Veterans Affairs, have been approved by the House thus far. Additionally, the House today passed a bill authorizing Department of Defense spending for the coming fiscal year.

The first spending bill to pass was a $77 billion piece of legislation funding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as funding military construction, such as housing and base maintenance. The VA is receiving a 5.6 percent increase in funding compared to fiscal year (FY) 2015 levels under the bill. The vote largely followed party lines, passing 255-163.

The second appropriations bill to pass would provide $35.4 billion to the Department of Energy. Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, water infrastructure projects and nuclear weapons programs also was included in the bill. The legislation passed by a vote of 240-177 and provides $1.2 billion more than FY15 spending levels.

President Obama has threatened to veto both bills.

The Department of Defense policy measure, the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), sets the stage for defense spending in the Appropriations Committee. The $612 billion bill has received criticism from the President.

 Accessing the Legislative Action Center

NARFE members can use the Legislative Action Center (LAC) as the hub to send letters to your members of Congress and track NARFE-related bills and votes. NARFE frequently updates the LAC, so check back often.

Return to May 15, 2015

Return to top news

NARFE Legislative Hotline, May 8, 2015

Message From NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“As Public Service Recognition Week comes to a close, I thank all NARFE members – and the entire federal community – for their commitment to serving the public. In the face of relentless attacks from Congress, you continue to persevere and carry out the important work of our nation. My deepest appreciation for all you do.”

 Public Service Recognition Week Comes to a Close

A successful Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) comes to a close on Saturday. The 30th anniversary of PSRW saw support across the federal government. Numerous heads of agencies submitted opinion pieces to news outlets, thanking employees for their service. Articles celebrating PSRW were featured in The Washington Post, Government Executive and Federal Times. President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation recognizing PSRW and thanked all those who answer the call to public service. NARFE thanks all of its members who took part in PSRW celebrations. We are aware of 15 letters to the editor, written by NARFE members, published in local newspapers across the country, calling attention to all the hard work and dedication that go into public service. NARFE also took part in the Twitter “white board” campaign, which featured NARFE members who held signs explaining why they are, or were, proud to serve the American people. Thank you to all the NARFE members who sent in photos with their messages of pride.

 Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Is May 9

According to Feeding America, hunger haunts 1 in 6 Americans, which is why NARFE is pleased to support the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday, May 9. In unity with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), we urge each NARFE member to collect and bag nonperishable food items and place the bag by your mailbox for your letter carrier on Saturday, May 9. The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the nation’s largest single-day drive with last year’s drive collecting 72.5 million pounds of food. More details on the 23rd annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive are available here.

May 14 – National Day of Action:“I Stand with Postal Workers”

A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service, of which NARFE is a member, and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) are holding a National Day of Action: “I Stand with Postal Workers,” on Thursday, May 14.

To find out where an event is being held near you, click here. You also can get involved by sending a postcard to Postmaster General Megan Brennan saying you stand with postal workers and support a return to previous postal delivery standards.

Accessing the Legislative Action Center

NARFE uses its Legislative Action Center (LAC) as the hub to contact your members of Congress and track congressional votes. You can use the LAC as a way to track NARFE-related bills and votes and send letters to your members of Congress. NARFE frequently updates the LAC, so check back often.

Return to May 8, 2015

Return to top news