“While House appropriators were silent on a federal pay raise, NARFE cannot be. Silence on the part of Congress puts a pay raise in the hands of the President, who supports a 1 percent pay raise in 2015. Federal employees deserve better.
“There is good news and bad news in our response to the ‘asks’ in last week’s Hotline. NARFE members are stepping forward to make their hotel reservations for the upcoming NARFE National Convention in Orlando. However, with the deadline only days away, it bears repeating. Please see the details below and make your reservations today. Our advocacy in support of tax parity for federal employees in combat zones must be ramped up. I urge each NARFE member to use the information and link provided below to contact Congress in support of the Federal Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act. I wrote to thank Rep. Frank Wolf, my hometown representative, for his co-sponsorship. Please join me by writing your representative.”
One Percent Is Hardly a Solution
On July 16, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5016, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2015, which provides the historical legislative vehicle for adjustments to federal employee pay scales. The bill does not include a federal pay raise for 2015, but does not preclude one, deferring the decision to President Obama, who proposed a 1 percent pay raise in his FY15 budget. You can read NARFE’ press release on the House’s inaction here.</p>
NARFE Biennial Convention Hotel Deadline Reminder
The cutoff date for making reservations for the Rosen Centre Hotel -- the NARFE National Convention site -- at the low NARFE group rate is fast approaching! Reservations must be made by 5 p.m. on Monday, July 21, 2014, to receive the NARFE rate of $95/night. Once this cutoff date has passed, any remaining rooms in the NARFE guest-room block will be released. Late and cancelled/replaced reservations may be made only on a space-available basis. To make reservations, call 1-800-204-7234 or go to the hotel website, www.RosenCentre.com. To get the NARFE group rate, use Group Code 50485.
NARFE-Supported Legislation Seeks Equal Treatment for Feds
The Federal Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act of 2014 (H.R.4621) is NARFE-supported legislation to extend the tax credit available to military personnel who serve in combat zones to the civilian federal employees working alongside them. This bipartisan measure is sponsored by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-VA. Use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to send an email to your representative asking for his/her support.
Summer Recess No Vacation for Legislators
A recent survey of congressional district directors offers advice on conducting successful meetings. Many event or meeting requests coming to Congress are incomplete or don’t connect the opportunity to a pending legislative issue. Invitations that are clear about the group’s intentions, detailed on the logistics and flexible on the timing will not only impress the office, they’ll actually translate into a visit by a member of Congress. Need help getting meetings set up for the August recess? Visit the Protect America’s Heartbeat toolkits page or email the Legislative Department at email@example.com.
Norm Ornstein: Civil Service History Lesson
Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, provides a concise history of the origin of the federal civil service in his National Journal column, “Slippery Slope.” Ornstein writes, “Proposed reforms at Veterans Affairs hearken back to the dark days of the corrupt spoils system in government.” NARFE members enjoyed Ornstein when he addressed the 2011 NARFE Legislative Training Conference.
“The NARFE National Convention, August 24-28 in Orlando, FL, is every member’s opportunity to participate in shaping the future of our organization, including our legislative program. I urge you to join us for this not-to-be-missed event. Use the information below to make hotel reservations. I look forward to seeing you in Orlando!”
NARFE Biennial Convention Hotel Deadline Reminder
The cutoff date for making reservations for the Rosen Centre Hotel -- the NARFE National Convention hotel -- at the low NARFE group rate is fast approaching! The cutoff for reservations is 5 p.m. on Monday, July 21, 2014, to receive the NARFE rate of $95/night. Once this cutoff date has passed, any remaining rooms in the NARFE guest-room block will be released. Late and cancelled/replaced reservations may be made only on a space-available basis. To make reservations, call 1-800-204-7234 or go to the hotel website, www.RosenCentre.com. To get the NARFE group rate, use Group Code 50485.
Defending Legislative and Political Interests at Convention
NARFE-PAC, NARFE’s Political Action Committee, is a crucial part of our advocacy efforts. After a successful rollout at the 2012 National Convention, the 2014 NARFE-PAC Breakfast will feature a special speaker, Dr. Aubrey Jewett, University of Central Florida associate professor of political science. The breakfast is a gesture of thanks to NARFE-PAC’s generous and sustaining donors, and will encourage members to learn more about NARFE-PAC. To see if you qualify to attend the breakfast, see page 46 of the July narfe magazine, or contact the Legislative Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited, so sign up today by emailing email@example.com.
NARFE-Supported Legislation Seeks Equal Treatment for Feds
The Federal Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act of 2014 (H.R.4621) is NARFE-supported legislation to extend the tax credit available to military personnel who serve in combat zones to the civilian federal employees working alongside them. This bipartisan measure is sponsored by Reps. Rob Wittman, R-VA; Frank R. Wolf, R-VA; and Gerry E. Connolly, D-VA. Use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to easily send a convincing email to your representative asking for his/her support.
Appropriations Makes Progress, CR Looms
While the annual appropriations process is making some progress, many Congress-watchers are predicting that there just isn’t enough time remaining in this election year to complete all 12 appropriations bills. The fiscal year begins October 1, a month prior to mid-term elections for the entire House and a third of the Senate. If appropriations are incomplete, a near certainty now, a continuing resolution (CR) would be required. Any CR is an opening for mischief. NARFE members and chapters, coming out of summer hiatus, will need to be ready in September for prompt action should the need arise.
OPM’s Mixed Week
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had a good news/bad news week. The good news: OPM, in June, again made progress on its retirement claims backlog, cutting the number of outstanding applications to the lowest point in years (12,391). The bad news for OPM came in the form of NARFE-pleasing letters from Congress on phased retirement. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent one of the two chastising letters to OPM. The other letter came from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Both letters expressed disappointment in the more than two years it has taken for the final regulations on phased retirement to be implemented. Congressional pressure may speed the finalizing process, as many NARFE members are eagerly awaiting this option.
“Since the next scheduled Hotline is July 11, on behalf of NARFE officers and staff, I wish you a happy and safe Independence Day holiday. However, we remain engaged in advocacy and ask that our members, especially leaders, continue planning to harness summer congressional recess opportunities to make ‘Grass-roots Advocacy Month’ a success!”
NARFE to Key Lawmakers: Support Six-Day Mail Delivery
On June 25, a NARFE-supported, bipartisan amendment mandating six-day mail delivery won approval by the House Committee on Appropriations. President Beaudoin’s letter bolstered the efforts of amendment sponsors Rep. Jose Serrano, D-NY, and Rep. Tom Latham, R-IA, to “ensure that the United States Postal Service provides mail delivery service six days per week, as required by appropriations bills since 1983.” The 224 cosponsors of a similar House resolution are posted on our website. NARFE’s Legislative Program, approved by the membership at the 2012 National Convention, supports maintaining six-day mail delivery.
Politics of Federal Pay
NARFE and the Federal-Postal Coalition historically have worked together to seek pay parity between military and civilian employees of the federal government. In a June 11 letter, President Beaudoin urged the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government to provide pay parity in its annual appropriations bill. Specifically, Beaudoin argued for parity with the 1.8 percent pay raise for the uniformed military contained in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4435). Unfortunately, the subcommittees in both chambers were silent on the pay raise, leaving pay up to the executive action of the president, who proposed a second consecutive year of only a 1 percent pay raise following three years of pay freezes. NARFE will continue to push for an adequate pay raise in 2015. Here’s how you can help:
Ask your Representative and both Senators to cosponsor legislation, H.R. 4306, introduced by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, and S. 2397, introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-HI. These companion bills call for fair pay via a pay raise of 3.3 percent for federal employees in 2015.
Congressional Recess Provides Advocacy Opportunities
Yesterday, the House of Representatives and the Senate adjourned for the July 4th holiday recess. They will spend the week in their districts and states participating in meetings and local events. The July 4th holiday is one of the best opportunities to interact with members of Congress in more informal settings while representing NARFE.
Members of Congress will participate in parades and community fairs, especially in an election year. Don’t miss the opportunity to tell your Representatives to oppose the effort to change postal delivery from 6-day to 5-day. And remind your Senators to oppose S. 1486, the Senate Postal Reform bill, as it makes substantive changes to longstanding benefits for postal and federal employees and retirees alike. Just a few minutes at community events will make a lasting impression on your legislators and reinforce the message that these are issues that are important to their constituents.
Phased Retirement Letter to the Editor
Letters to the Editor (LTEs) offer NARFE members the opportunity to reach crucial NARFE-eligible federal employees using daily and weekly newspapers. Phased retirement is on the minds of many federal employees who are at or nearing retirement age, and a letter to the editor on this issue is one way to grab the attention of both prospective members and the Office of Personnel Management. Our LTE template needs to be personalized by any sender, and can easily be sent to daily or weekly newspapers in your area via the NARFE Legislative Action Center.