“This Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful to all NARFE members for giving me the honor of serving as your National President. I look forward to working together over the next two years to strengthen NARFE and promote our advocacy efforts, especially in light of the continued threats expected when the 114th Congress convenes in January. For now, however, I hope you all enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday with your friends and family.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, will succeed Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, next Congress as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chaffetz campaigned for the position with a pledge to strike a more conciliatory tone than the current chair. He presently heads the oversight panel’s subcommittee on national security. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-MD, will remain the committee’s ranking member.
Senate committee chairs will be determined in December. NARFE is especially interested in who will lead the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over many of our issues.
Individuals interested in updating their health care, dental and vision coverage have until December 8 to make changes. The average Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) premium increase for 2015 is 3.2 percent, the fourth year in a row the increase has remained below 4 percent. You can view FEHBP premiums by plan for 2015 on OPM’s website.
Although it remains unlikely, the President’s executive actions on immigration have sparked some discussion about a renewed attempt to shut down the federal government. The current continuing resolution ends December 11, so Congress must pass another short-term funding measure or an omnibus appropriations bill before then. Some individual members of Congress and outside groups are encouraging Republican leaders to threaten a government shutdown over the new executive actions, which they believe go beyond the President’s constitutional powers. However, at this point, leadership in both parties has been very clear that they would like to avoid another government shutdown.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) declined in October to an index level of 233.229. The index decreased 0.4 percent compared to September’s index and decreased 0.43 percent compared to the 2014 third-quarter average base index. As previously announced, most federal retirees will receive a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) beginning in January. With two months remaining in the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act measurement year, the October index is 1.77 percent higher than the December 2013 index.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.