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NEWS:

NARFE Legislative Hotline – November 14, 2014

Message from NARFE President Richard Thissen

“Congress returned to Washington, DC, this week to begin the lame-duck session. While we expect this session to be short and quiet, especially relating to NARFE issues, we are not expecting the same for the 114th Congress that begins in January. Several threats -- including the Chained CPI, which would decrease cost-of-living adjustments for federal retirees, and increased retirement contributions for federal employees -- are expected to be debated again as the focus returns to sequestration and the budget. I ask all members to take an active role in defending their earned benefits as these issues arise.”

Senate and House Leadership Elections Held, No Surprises

Following the midterm elections, both parties chose their respective leaders for the 114th Congress. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, was unanimously selected by his party as majority leader for the new Republican majority in the Senate. Meanwhile, Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, will lead Senate Democrats as minority leader. Rep. John Boehner, R-OH, will remain speaker of the House while Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, will remain House minority leader.

New committee chairs are expected to be announced next week. NARFE is especially interested in who will lead the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, both of which have jurisdiction over many of our issues, including retirement and health benefits.

Legislative Training Conference Registration

Open Registration is open for the 2015 Legislative Training Conference, to be held March 14-17 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Crystal City, VA. The conference offers NARFE leaders and activists the opportunity to learn how to be effective in grass-roots advocacy from NARFE Legislative Department staff, hear from national speakers and network with fellow NARFE advocates. It also includes a Capitol Hill visit to meet with members of Congress and staff on the conference’s last day.

Learn more about the conference and see a tentative schedule online on the NARFE website. You can register for the conference online or by using the form in narfe magazine.

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NARFE Legislative Hotline – October 31, 2014

Message from NARFE President Joseph A. Beaudoin

“Yesterday, I told the headquarters’ staff ‘thank you,’ for the work they carry out on your behalf. Today, I say thank you to each and every NARFE member for your dedication and support during the time that I have been at headquarters.

Serving as your president for the last four years has been an honor. My last request is that you exercise our precious right to vote in Tuesday’s midterm elections.”

November 4 Midterm Elections

Tuesday, November 4 is Election Day. If you have not already voted early or by mail, NARFE’s outgoing President, Joe Beaudoin, urges you to cast your ballot and assist other NARFE members get to the polls. All 435 voting members of the House and 36 Senate seats will be filled by the winners of these elections. The outcome of these elections will determine what policies Congress pursues during the last two years of President Obama’s term.

First, make sure you know about the issues that could impact your earned benefits by reviewing NARFE’s 113th Congress Scorecard. The Scorecard is a compilation of votes taken on legislation in the 113th Congress (2013-2014) that could have affected your earned pay, health benefits, retirement annuities or government operations. And for members of Congress who have been in office for more than just the 113th Congress, it includes life-time voting records.

Use the Scorecard to ensure you are voting to preserve your earned health and retirement benefits. If you live in an area with an open seat or you want to know more about the challengers and candidates in open seats, you can contact the NARFE Legislative Department directly and see if candidates in your area completed the NARFE Candidate Questionnaire. You can also contact candidates directly and ask where they stand on NARFE’s issues. Contact information for candidates is available on the NARFE Legislative Action Center.

Now that you're armed with this important information, make sure you know where your polling location is and its hours. You can find this information at the Voting Information Project. Still have questions about Election Day 2014? Contact the Legislative Department by emailing here or by calling 703-838-7760, ext. 201.

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NARFE Legislative Hotline – September 19, 2014

Message from NARFE President Joseph A. Beaudoin

“As predicted in the last Hotline, Congress now has passed a stopgap funding measure or continuing resolution that provides funding to keep the federal government operating through early December. Congress is now in recess until November 12. Because campaigns listen closely to voters, I urge NARFE members to be active electors in the run-up to the midterm elections. If we use the resources in the Protect America’s Heartbeat Toolkit, the election recess provides another opportunity for NARFE leaders and grass-roots activists to impact politics and policy for years to come.”

Stopgap Spending Bill Cleared for White House

Memories of last year’s 16-day government shutdown, combined with their eagerness to return home to campaign for re-election, convinced 319 representatives and 78 senators to vote for passage of a short-term funding bill that provides funding for all government operations through December 11. With President Obama’s promised signature, Congress has recessed so that 388 representatives and 28 senators can resume re-election campaigns. However, this stopgap measure, providing eight weeks of funding, is far from ideal. Its enactment kicks the necessary funding decisions down the road to a post-election or “lame duck” session, set to begin November 12.

Thrift Savings Plan Automatic Enrollment Change

On September 16, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, the Smart Savings Act, S. 2117, introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA. The legislation would change the automatic enrollment for new federal employees in the Thrift Savings Plan from the G fund to one of the Lifecycle funds. The bill now moves on to conference, as the House passed similar, bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, on July 14.

Consumer Prices Decline in August

On September 17, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/cpi or 202-691-6994) reported that Augusts' Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is 234.030, a one-month decrease of 0.21 percent. With just one month remaining in the measurement year, the July-August average CPI-W (234.278) is 1.7 percent higher than the 2013 third-quarter average base index (230.327). Of interest to Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) beneficiaries, the August 2014 CPI-W figure is 2.12 percent higher than the December 2013 CPI-W figure (229.174). The final data point, September consumer price indices, will be released October 22 at 8:30 am EDT. Consumer prices will be the lead item in news reports at that time because the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for all three federally administered retirement programs – Social Security, military retirement and federal civilian annuities -- are based on the same methodology and timetable. For NARFE’s chart and details, visit: http://www.narfe.org/member/articles.cfm?ID=2588.

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