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 21, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“The House Budget Committee approved its 2018 fiscal year budget resolution, setting the stage for cuts to your earned pay and benefits. This budget proposes a ‘retirement tax’ on hard-working public servants and would require cuts to federal retirement benefits, to the tune of at least $32 billion. Federal workers and retirees have dedicated their lives to serving the public good and their work should be honored; this budget proposal does the opposite. NARFE members need to stand united against any threats to their earned pay and benefits as the budget process continues. If we do not speak out against these threats, Congress will view that as acceptance.”

House Budget Committee Advances Budget Resolution

The House Budget Committee approved its 2018 fiscal year budget resolution, setting up cuts to the earned pay and benefits of the federal community. For the upcoming fiscal year, the resolution allocated $621.5 billion for defense spending – a $70.5 billion increase from FY17 and $511 billion for nondefense discretionary spending – a $8 billion decrease from FY17.

The resolution also includes reconciliation instructions to 11 House committees to come up with $203 billion in revenue increases or spending cuts over the course of the next 10 years. This includes $32 billion in cuts to spending programs under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR). The main spending programs under OGR jurisdiction are federal retirement and health benefits. As such, the instruction to OGR essentially would require at least $32 billion in cuts to federal retirement or health benefits over the course of a decade.

While it is ultimately up to OGR to develop these legislative proposals, the Budget Committee put forward two suggestions that would cut retirement benefits. First, the committee proposed increasing the amount federal employees pay into their pensions, which is nothing more than a pay cut equal to the increased portion they contribute. Secondly, the committee proposed ending the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Annuity Supplement. Specific details on who these proposals would affect were not stated in the budget resolution.

While the budget must be agreed upon by the full House and Senate, passage by the House Budget Committee is the first step in that process. If and when that occurs, the next stage will be for House and Senate committees to approve spending levels and changes aligned with the budget’s requirements.

NARFE members are encouraged to write and call their legislators and ask that they oppose the budget and stand against any cuts to the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees.

TSP Modernization Act Approved by Oversight Committee

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved by voice vote the TSP Modernization Act of 2017, H.R. 3031. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, D-MD, and Mark Meadows, R-NC, would provide more flexible withdrawal options for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) accounts.

The legislation would allow multiple, partial post-separation withdrawals, which participants can time to their individual needs, and would provide multiple age-based withdrawals for participants who are still working and are older than age 59-½. It would add flexibility to the TSP by allowing the election of quarterly or annual payments and permit periodic withdrawals that can be changed at any point during the year. Payments could be stopped while allowing the account balance to remain in the TSP. Finally, the bill would eliminate the withdrawal election deadline.

NARFE supports the bill, and sent a letter urging committee members to advance the legislation, which they did. The Employee Thrift Advisory Council, of which NARFE is a member, also supports the changes to TSP withdrawal options outlined in this bill. NARFE members are encouraged to send a letter to their legislators asking them to support the bill here.

 Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act Introduced

This week, legislation was introduced in the House that would repeal the two recent increases in federal employee retirement contributions. The Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act, H.R. 3269, introduced by Rep. Anthony G. Brown, D-MD, would return most federal employee retirement contributions to the pre-2013 0.8 percent level.

Beginning in 2013, new federal employees were mandated to pay more toward their retirement than their previously hired colleagues, without any increase in benefits. Those hired in 2013 pay 2.3 percent more, and those hired in 2014 and beyond pay 3.6 percent more than those hired prior to 2013. Over 10 years, these increases in retirement contributions will amount to a $21 billion loss in take-home pay for these federal employees, and much more thereafter, with no added benefit in retirement.

NARFE supports this bill. Legislators should not treat federal employee pay as a piggy bank to pay for other congressional spending priorities. Such practices inhibit the federal government from recruiting and retaining the nation’s best and brightest, undermining the ability of our government to carry out its mission of serving the American people.

Fiduciary Rule Repeal Bill Approved By House Committee

The Affordable Retirement Advice for Savers Act, H.R. 2823, introduced by Rep. Phil Roe, R-TN, was approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce by a vote of 23-17. The bill, which would repeal the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, was also referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Under the fiduciary rule, financial advisers are subject to new impartial conduct standards when recommending rollovers of assets into individual retirement accounts (IRAs), including rollovers from the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). For this reason, NARFE supports the rule and is working to prevent any attempts to undo it. You can contact your lawmakers in support of the rule here.

Legislative Webinar: Federal Benefits Under Attack – What You Need To Know

Legislative Department hosted a webinar this week on the very real threats to your earned federal retirement and health benefits. The webinar reviewed the proposals currently being debated in Congress that could impact your retirement and health care plans – and what you can do to prevent those proposals from becoming law. The proposed budget being debated in Congress has crippling implications for the earned pay and benefits of current and retired Feds, making it extremely important that all federal workers and retirees understand what’s at stake and take action.

An archived version of the 20-minute webinar, hosted by NARFE’s Legislative Director Jessica Klement, is available to view here.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

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 July 21, 2017

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NARFE Headquarters, July 14, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“House Budget Chairman Diane Black continues to pursue consensus within her committee and caucus in anticipation of moving a budget resolution out of committee next week. The budget resolution taking shape is expected to require significant cuts to mandatory spending, which includes federal retirement. NARFE members need to stand up and contact their representative to express their opposition to such proposals. On Tuesday, July 18, there will be a national call-in day to protect your earned benefits. Please be sure to use our call script below and contact your representative on Tuesday.”

Upcoming Legislative Webinar: Federal Benefits Under Attack – What You Need To Know

NARFE's Legislative Department is hosting a webinar on the very real threats to your earned federal retirement and health benefits. The webinar will review the proposals currently being debated in Congress that could impact your retirement and health care plans – and what you can do to prevent them from becoming law. The proposed budget being debated in Congress has crippling implications for the earned pay and benefits of current and retired Feds, making it extremely important that all federal workers and retirees understand what’s at stake and take action.

The 20-minute webinar will be hosted by NARFE’s Legislative Director Jessica Klement on Thursday, July 20, at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to register now! Those unable to attend the live webinar can access it on the NARFE website within 48 hours.

Call Your Representative to Protect Your Benefits on July 18

On Tuesday, July 18, NARFE will be participating in a national call-in day in partnership with the Federal-Postal Coalition which includes 30 member organizations. NARFE members should call their representative on Tuesday in order to protect their earned pay and benefits from being targeted in the congressional budget process. Timing is critical, as the House Budget Committee is pushing to mark up their proposed budget as early as next week.

Threats to your retirement security already have been outlined in the president’s budget proposal, and the threats are real. NARFE members must take a stand to ensure that the congressional budget resolution does not set the stage for those proposals, or any other cuts to federal retirement programs, to become law.

Members should dial NARFE’s toll-free number (1-866-220-0044) and use this call script to ask their representative to reject any cuts to the earned pay and benefits of federal workers and retirees. Your benefits have been earned and cutting them in retirement goes back on a fundamental promise made to those who dedicated their working lives for the public good.

Be sure to call your representative on Tuesday, July 18!

NARFE President Joins Town Hall Discussion on Alzheimer’s

This week, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen joined Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, for a town hall meeting focused on resources for those living with Alzheimer’s and their families and caregivers. Thissen appeared with a panel of Alzheimer’s activists from Northern Virginia and spoke at the event, titled “Facing Alzheimer’s: Community Resources, Support and Action.”

During the town hall, Rep. Connolly discussed the resources available for those living with Alzheimer’s and opened the floor for discussion on what needs to be done to help support individuals with the disease. He expressed the need for more care options and better treatment, and put forward the idea of an Alzheimer’s “moon shot,” which would provide considerable federal funding for Alzheimer’s research.

When giving his remarks, Thissen reaffirmed NARFE’s commitment to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and proudly boasted NARFE members' dedication to the cause. Thissen also noted that since partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association, NARFE members have donated more than $12.3 million to help find a cure for this devastating disease.

information about the Alzheimer’s Association can be found here. Thank you to all NARFE members who have taken part in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

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 July 14, 2017

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NARFE Headquarters, June 16, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were wounded in an act of senseless violence when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice this week. In the line of fire, the heroic actions of the U.S. Capitol Police saved many lives and prevented the situation from being much worse. The officers, who were wounded, courageously protected those in harm’s way and are an example of the important, and sometimes lifesaving, work of federal employees. Every day Americans benefit from the work of federal employees. We are all grateful for the swift action of the U.S. Capitol Police.”

Combat Zone Tax Parity Act Introduced in the House

The Combat Zone Tax Parity Act, H.R. 2929, was introduced in the House by Reps. Rob Wittman, R-VA, and Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, and would extend the tax credit available to military personnel who serve in combat zones to the civilian federal employees working alongside them. Currently, only members of the military and federal contractors qualify for federal income tax exemptions on their base pay as a result of serving in designated combat zones.

The legislation would compensate for the hardships federal employees and their families face from the separation and stress that accompany service in a combat zone. It also would provide a valuable incentive for civil servants to apply for overseas duty. U.S. missions require individuals with expertise often not found in the military to fill critical positions in such areas as transportation reconstruction projects and health care.

The bill now makes its way to the House Committee on Ways and Means. NARFE members are encouraged to write their legislators in support of this bill here.

Bill Blocking Fiduciary Rule Passes in the House

Late last week, the House passed the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017, H.R. 10, in a party-line vote of 233-186. Of special interest to NARFE members is a provision that would block the Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule, a rule which NARFE supports. In other action, an individual bill, H.R. 2823, which would end the current fiduciary rule, was introduced by Rep. Phil Roe, R-TN.

The Senate companion bill to the CHOICE Act, S. 1321, was recently introduced by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-GA. The bill could face a filibuster in the Senate, as passage requires 60 votes. Just recently, DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta allowed the June 9 effective date of the fiduciary rule to go into effect. However, the Secretary noted last month that a review of the final rule will continue.

Under the fiduciary rule, financial advisers are subject to new impartial conduct standards when recommending rollovers of assets into individual retirement accounts (IRAs), including rollovers from the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). For this reason, NARFE supports the rule and is working to prevent any attempts to undo it. You can contact your lawmakers in support of the rule here.

Lawmakers Sign Letters Rejecting Proposed Cuts to Earned Pay and Benefits

This week, 108 lawmakers signed onto a letter authored by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD, urging House leadership to reject the proposed cuts to the earned pay and benefits of federal workers and retirees outlined in the president’s budget. The letter specifically mentions the proposals to reduce and eliminate cost-of-living adjustments and points to the financial sacrifices federal employees have made since 2010.

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-VA, also sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, on the budget. Comstock’s letter mentioned the sacrifices made by the federal community and highlighted the important role that federal workers play in our society. It also emphasized the importance of financial security for those nearing and currently in retirement.

NARFE thanks these lawmakers for standing up for federal employees and retirees.

Senate Holds Hearing on Agency Reorganization Plans

The Senate Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management Subcommittee held a hearing this week titled “Agency Approaches to Reorganization: Examining OMB's Memorandum on the Federal Workforce.” The hearing focused on how agencies are crafting their agency reorganization and workforce reduction plans before the administration’s June 30 submission deadline.

Representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture and Homeland Security all stated that their departments would meet the June 30 deadline. When detailing the plans, much of the hearing’s discussion focused on creating greater efficiency rather than implementing workforce reductions. Many witnesses discussed how their departments were gathering suggestions from their workforce and highlighted their goals of improving customer service.

Subcommittee Chairman James Lankford, R-OK, noted during the hearing that there was no requirement to slash the workforce and also expressed that he has no interest in instituting such a requirement. More information on the hearing, including testimony, is available here.

Upcoming Legislative Webinar: Choose Your Own Advocacy Adventure!

NARFE's Legislative Department will host a webinar on preparing for Grassroots Advocacy Month, titled "Choose Your Own Advocacy Adventure: Preparing for August." This webinar will review actions you can take to urge your legislators to protect your earned pay and benefits. Are you ready to stand in opposition to harmful policies affecting the federal community? Do you know how to take action to help prevent these policies from becoming law? Participate in the Legislative Department’s webinar on June 27 at 2 p.m. ET to learn how to be most effective in your advocacy efforts this August!

The hour-long webinar will be hosted by NARFE Grassroots Program Manager Molly Checksfield on Tuesday, June 27, at 2 p.m. ET. Registration for this live event is limited to the first 1,000 registrants, so click here to register now! Those unable to attend the live webinar can access it on the NARFE website within 48 hours.

Consumer Prices Increase Slightly in May

Relevant to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to civil service annuities for 2018, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 0.07 percent in May 2017. The new CPI-W figure for May 2017 is 238.609. This is 1.51 percent higher than the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2016, which is used to determine the 2018 COLA.

Individuals receiving insurance benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) received a 2.0 percent COLA in March 2017. Looking ahead to the 2018 COLA for FECA benefits, the May 2017 CPI-W figure (238.609) is 1.37 percent higher than the December 2016 CPI-W figure (235.390).

NARFE members can access NARFE’s latest COLA update here.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

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 16, 2017

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