Saturday, September 9, 2017




Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“You likely have seen the devastation Hurricane Harvey has caused and the impending destruction of Irma, and some of you are experiencing their unprecedented impact firsthand. NARFE partners with the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) to provide emergency grants and loans to federal employees and NARFE members affected by a declared national disaster through the NARFE-FEEA Disaster Fund. I am proud of the NARFE members who have donated more than $458,000 in aid to those affected by natural disasters. I am once again asking you to lend a helping hand if you are able. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support federal employees and NARFE members in disaster areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, or apply for a grant, please click here.”

Senate Passes Package to Fund Government Until December 8 

In a show of bipartisanship, the White House and congressional leaders have agreed to a short-term measure to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and provide disaster aid in response to Hurricane Harvey. The agreement funds the government and extends the debt ceiling deadline until December 8, allowing lawmakers more time to pass a budget and debate the debt ceiling.

The Senate passed a $15.25 billion Harvey aid package with a three-month continuing resolution and debt ceiling extension added to the bill. The legislation was quickly taken up by the House, which passed the bill on Friday. It now goes to the president’s desk for his signature. 

The continuing resolution extends the budget process and keeps the government operating at current spending levels until December 8. This move pushes back any decisions regarding budget proposals affecting the federal community, such as eliminating the Federal Employees Retirement System Annuity Supplement and decreasing or eliminating cost-of-living adjustments.

NARFE is closely following the latest budget developments and is working with lawmakers to prevent proposals that would negatively impact the federal community. NARFE members are strongly encouraged to write and call their legislators about attempts to reduce their earned pay and benefits.

President Sets 2018 Federal Employee Pay Raise

President Trump submitted an alternative pay plan for civilian federal employees on August 31. The 1.9 percent average pay raise includes a 1.4 percent across-the-board increase and an average additional increase of 0.5 percent in locality-based pay adjustments. 

Statutory policy calls for federal pay to increase at the rate of the Employment Cost Index for private-sector wages and salaries, minus 0.5 percent. Based on that figure, the across-the-board increase should have been 1.9 percent, with additional locality pay increases to close the gap between public- and private-sector wages. However, the president has the authority to override this automatic calculation.

NARFE President Richard G. Thissen commented, “While federal employees will appreciate the raise, an average increase of 1.9 percent is the minimum required to prevent federal pay from declining further, and more rapidly, below market than the current 35 percent wage disparity between public- and private-sector wages. Both Congress and the president should work together to pursue a more robust pay increase to maintain the highly qualified workforce needed to run an efficient federal government.” See NARFE’s full statement on the pay raise here

New OPM Director Nominee Announced 

President Trump announced Jeff Tien Han Pon as his latest pick for director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Pon previously served as deputy director of eGovernment at OPM, where he played a hand in the rollout of the USAJobs website. Pon also served as the chief human capital officer at the Energy Department, and most recently, he served as the chief human resources and strategy officer for the Society for Human Resource Management.

Pon is President Trump’s second nomination for director of OPM. George Nesterczuk, a Bush administration veteran, withdrew his name from consideration at the end of July. NARFE looks forward to learning more about Pon through the confirmation process. 

TSP Eases Financial Hardship Withdrawal for Harvey Victims 

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) announced a temporary change in its rules regarding financial hardship withdrawals. This move allows TSP participants who suffered losses from Hurricane Harvey to become eligible for the relaxed withdrawal option.

Withdrawal requests related to Hurricane Harvey must be submitted to TSP by January 24, 2018, and distributions must occur before January 31, 2018. Participants must withdraw at least $1,000 and cannot make additional withdrawal requests for six months. TSP has waived the rule that prohibits participants from contributing to their fund within six months after taking a withdrawal.

It is estimated that nearly 60,000 federal employees live or work in the area hit by Hurricane Harvey. NARFE partners with the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) to provide emergency grants and loans to federal employees and NARFE members affected by a declared national disaster through the NARFE-FEEA Disaster Fund. Find out more here if you are in need of assistance or are able to donate.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily 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 Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 or toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online 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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline 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.

More 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 NARFE 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 Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online 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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline 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 30deadline. 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 NARFE 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 Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online 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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline May 19, 2017











Message From NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“This week, The Washington Post reported details of the president’s 2018 budget proposal. If what is being reported is true, this budget represents an egregious and insulting attack on federal service and seniors. Arbitrarily limiting and eliminating benefits is wrong and disrespectful to the men and women who have and continue to serve this proud nation. The rumored details paint a dark image for the federal community, and NARFE members must be ready to defend their earned pay and benefits.”

President’s 2018 Budget Reportedly Contains Substantial Cuts to Federal Retirement Benefits

The Washington Post has reported details of President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, which is expected to be released early next week. The reported proposals include unprecedented threats to both active and retired federal employees. 

Specifically, The Post reported the budget will propose eliminating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for retirees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and reduce them by 0.5 percent each year for retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). It also reportedly proposes increasing FERS retirement contributions by 6 percent, which is essentially a 6 percent pay cut for the same benefit. It would also calculate future retirement benefits on the average of the high-five years of salary instead of the current high-three. Finally, it is being reported that the budget would eliminate the FERS Annuity Supplement for those who retire beginning in 2018.

NARFE is deeply concerned about what is being reported. The president’s budget is expected to be released on May 23, and NARFE will closely monitor the budget when available to confirm the existence of these reported cuts. President Richard G. Thissen issued a statement following The Post article, and NARFE will continue to strongly oppose these cuts if included in the budget. Stay tuned for how you can fight back against these proposals in the next Hotline.

Oversight Committee Holds Hearing on Federal Employee Compensation

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing this week titled “Federal Employee Compensation: An Update.” The hearing addressed a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, which compared federal compensation to that of the private sector. Members of the committee also debated areas to improve and modernize the federal employee compensation system.

Witnesses from the CBO and the U.S. Government Accountability Office discussed the findings of the CBO report. The report concluded that for the most highly educated workers, the federal government paid less, on average, in total compensation than private-sector employees with similar characteristics. For the least-educated employees, the report found the federal government paid more than the private sector, primarily as a result of greater benefits. CBO concluded total compensation was 17 percent greater for federal employees than their private-sector counterparts. 

NARFE submitted written testimony to the committee, expressing our support for competitive compensation and urging the committee to take a measured and thoughtful approach to any changes to federal pay and benefits. NARFE’s testimony also identified some of the flaws and limitations of the CBO report, which may have led to an incorrect conclusion. Interestingly, the Federal Salary Council has reported that federal workers are paid, on average, approximately 34 percent less than their private-sector counterparts, based on data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Details of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here.

Speak Out! Postal Reform Bill Approved by House Oversight Committee 

NARFE strongly urges its members to contact their legislators and ask them to oppose the Postal Reform Act of 2017 in its current form. This bill forces current postal retirees onto Medicare in order to keep their federal health insurance coverage and sets a dangerous precedent for ALL federal retirees. A letter can easily be sent via the NARFE Legislative Action Center here.

NARFE believes it is wrong to change benefits once someone has already retired. Do not stand by idly as Congress tries to change postal retirees’ benefits. A change to postal benefits could easily pave the way for Congress to change benefits for the rest of the federal community. Write your legislators today and tell them not to change postal retirees’ health benefits after they have already retired.

Are you a postal retiree who chose not to take Medicare Part B? Tell NARFE about how this legislation would impact you and your family by sending us an email here.

VA Accountability Bill Introduced in the Senate 

Legislation to ease the firing of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was introduced in the Senate this week by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, and a bipartisan group of senators. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 would amend both pre- and post-removal procedures and the appeals process for VA employees. Given the strong bipartisan support, there is a strong chance Congress passes the bill this year.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use NARFE 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 Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online 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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline April 14, 2017











Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Even with Congress out of session, there is still plenty of news being made that affects the federal community – hence, this ‘special edition’ Hotline. This week, we learned that the federal hiring freeze has ended and a plan has been submitted to reduce the size of the federal workforce. NARFE is evaluating the plan, much of which will require congressional action, and will act accordingly. We also learned that the administration intends to provide the federal workforce a 1.9 percent pay increase in 2018. While we applaud the statutorily prescribed increase, more can and should be done to make up for previous pay freezes and low increases.”

OMB Submits Government Reorganization Plan, Federal Hiring Freeze Over 

This week, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a government reform plan, titled “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce,” which is available here.

This plan was issued pursuant to the president’s executive order directing OMB to submit a comprehensive plan to reorganize executive branch departments and agencies, and the presidential memorandum that imposed the hiring freeze, which called for OMB to produce a long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal workforce. With the issuance of this long-term plan, the federal hiring freeze is officially over.

OMB’s plan directs agencies to draft Agency Reform Plans by June 30, 2017. The government-wide reform plan will be proposed as part of the president’s fiscal year 2019 budget. The memo asks agencies to: eliminate, restructure and merge activities; improve organizational efficiency; and revamp workforce management to improve performance, increase accountability and reduce costs through avenues such as long-term workforce reductions.

Congressional approval will be required for many aspects of this plan, including eliminating programs and implementing restructuring and merging of agencies. Other aspects of the plan, such as those aimed at improving efficiency and workforce management, may not require congressional approval, but must operate within existing personnel law. Agencies also may have significant flexibility regarding workforce reductions, if they do not conflict with congressional appropriations.

OMB is seeking public input on the reforms, which can be provided here. While this request for input is directed at finding suggestions for fixing what is wrong with government, NARFE strongly encourages its members to comment to tell OMB what is right with government – what ought to be maintained and preserved in this process. If you have good, constructive ideas for improvements based on your personal experience, provide those as well.

President Trump Proposes 1.9 Percent Pay Increase 

The White House confirmed this week that it will propose a 1.9 percent pay increase for current civilian federal employees for 2018. The pay raise will be included in the president’s detailed fiscal year 2018 budget, set to be released in May. Congress has the authority to set pay in the appropriations process, but in the past several years, has deferred to the president's proposed pay increase. The White House did not specify what portion of the pay increase will go toward locality pay adjustments.

The proposed raise is equal to the increase in the Employment Cost Index for private-sector wages and salaries, minus 0.5 percent. NARFE is pleased that the administration has proposed an increase that tracks with long-standing statutory policy, but believes the president and Congress should pursue a more robust increase given the years of below-market increases and pay freezes.

Public Service Recognition Week May 7-13

Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW), which has been celebrated since 1985, is May 7-13! Join NARFE, an annual sponsor, in thanking public servants who have dedicated their lives to the public good.

On Sunday, May 7, the fifth annual Public Service Charity 5k Run/Walk will be held in Washington, DC, to kick off the week of celebration. Not able to make it to the nation’s capital? You can participate locally in the race by forming teams to run or walk together in your hometown. All proceeds from the event will support civilian federal and postal workers through the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA).

NARFE members are encouraged to submit and customize a letter to the editor to their local newspaper recognizing the great work that federal employees do for our country. Share your story of service in the personalization section of the letter to raise awareness of the importance of public service in everyday life.

Consumer Prices Increase in March

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 0.08 percent in March 2017. The new CPI-W figure for March 2017 was 237.656. This is 1.11 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 March 2017 CPI-W figure (237.656) is 0.96 percent higher than the December 2016 CPI-W figure (235.390).

You can access NARFE’s full COLA update here.

Hotline Published As Needed Until April 28

Due to the congressional recess, the Hotline will be published as needed until April 28.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use NARFE 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 Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online 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.

Friday, April 7, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline April 07, 2017













Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Members of Congress are set to return to their home districts as the House and Senate recess from April 7-24. During this time, NARFE members should engage their legislators by setting up meetings, attending town halls and encouraging their fellow members to do so, as well. Members of Congress need to know that we remain vigilant. NARFE members should take a proactive approach with their legislators as the federal budget season begins. Tell them that the federal community has paid its fair share to reduce the deficit and that we strongly oppose any cuts to the earned pay and benefits of federal employees and retirees.” 

Senators Introduce Legislation to Change TSP Withdrawal Options 

Sens. Rob Portman, R-OH, and Thomas R. Carper, D-DE, this week introduced the TSP Modernization Act, which would provide more flexible withdrawal options for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) accounts. Limited withdrawal options are one of the leading reasons participants transfer their money out of the TSP, which provides sound investment options at a low cost for federal employees and retirees, as well as members of the uniformed services.

Specifically, the bill would allow multiple, partial post-separation withdrawals that participants can time to their individual needs. Currently, participants who have separated from federal service are allowed only two post-separation withdrawals (in the form of a lump sum payment, a stream of monthly payments or annuity payments).

For participants who are still working and are older than age 59½, the bill would allow multiple age-based withdrawals. Current rules allow only one age-based withdrawal for those still working.

The bill also would add flexibility to the TSP by allowing the election of quarterly or annual payments and permitting periodic withdrawals to be changed at any point during the year. Payments could be stopped while allowing the account balance to remain in the TSP. Currently, periodic payments can be selected only in monthly intervals, can be adjusted only once per year and cannot be stopped unless the participant withdraws the entire remaining balance.

Finally, the bill would eliminate the withdrawal election deadline. Currently, participants are required to make a post-separation withdrawal election by April 1 of the year following the year in which they turn age 70½ and are separated from federal service. This requirement too often is conflated with the requirement to begin taking required minimum distributions the same day, which leads to withdrawals of the full TSP balance.

The Employee Thrift Advisory Council, of which NARFE is a member, supports the improvements in withdrawal flexibility. Send a letter to your legislators asking them to support the bill here.

Fiduciary Rule Applicability Date Delayed 60 Days 

The Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule to extend by 60 days the applicability date for defining who is a “fiduciary” when providing retirement investment advice, delaying the full implementation of the “conflict of interest” or “fiduciary” rule to June 9, 2017. President Trump signed a presidential memo directing the Labor Department to review the rule to determine whether it should be rescinded or revised. 

This delay is one of the first steps in a process that could lead to the demise or substantial alteration of the rule. However, based on the release, it appears that the DOL does not anticipate any additional delays beyond 60 days in setting the definition of who is a fiduciary and establishing the standards of conduct necessary to ensure the adviser is acting in the best interests of the client.

The DOL also does not expect to complete its review of the fiduciary rule within the 60-day delay period. The full review is scheduled to take place during the transition period before the second phase of the rule is set to begin in January 2018. Fortunately for TSP participants, the rollover advice portion of the rule is set to begin June 9, and will be enforceable.

Thank you to those who wrote to the DOL in support of the rule during the notice and comment period. NARFE supports the rule and is concerned by continued attempts to undo it. Read NARFE’s full statement in support of the fiduciary rule here.

Webinar Recording Available: ‘Fed Up(date) with the 115th Congress’

Interested in getting the latest on congressional action relating to issues affecting the federal community? The NARFE Legislative Department hosted a webinar this week reviewing how upcoming budget battles and advancing postal reform legislation could impact all federal and postal employees and retirees. Make sure you know the threats facing active and retired federal employees. The hour-long webinar hosted by NARFE Deputy Legislative Director John Hatton is available here for NARFE members to view.

Hotline Published As Needed Until April 28

Due to the congressional recess, the Hotline will be published as needed until April 28.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use NARFE 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 Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online 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.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline March 31, 2017











Message From NARFE President Richard G. Thissen
“I had the honor this week of attending the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Advocacy Forum. This important event brought advocates to Washington, DC, to lend a hand in support of research to end this terrible disease. Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country, costing Americans $259 billion per year, and will continue to impact all of us as the nation ages. Since NARFE members have been helping to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research since 1985, it was gratifying to see that NARFE was represented on Capitol Hill as advocates met with their elected officials to raise awareness of the economic as well as emotional toll that this disease takes on those living with Alzheimer’s, their loved ones and caregivers.”

NARFE Participates in Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Advocacy Forum
This past week, representatives of NARFE joined more than 1,300 advocates from around the country at the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Advocacy Forum to ask Congress for increased federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease research. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in America, and is the only disease of the “top 10” that cannot be prevented, slowed or cured. NARFE is proud of its status as a Zenith Society member of the Alzheimer’s Association, having raised more than $12 million to date to fund Alzheimer’s research.

During the three-day conference, attendees learned more about the detrimental effects that Alzheimer’s has on individuals living with the disease, their loved ones and caregivers. To wrap up the conference, Capitol Hill was “painted purple” by advocates who informed legislators and their staff about what Congress can do to help end this terrible disease. Click here to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association now. 

The Senate Special Committee on Aging also held a hearing this week titled “The Arc of Alzheimer’s: From Preventing Cognitive Decline in Americans to Assuring Quality Care for Those Living with the Disease.” Panel witnesses urged Congress to support Alzheimer’s research and requested that the National Institutes of Health receive increased funding for Alzheimer’s research for fiscal year 2018. A video of the hearing is available here.

April 4 Legislative Webinar: ‘Fed Up(date) with the 115th Congress’
Next week, the NARFE Legislative Department will host a webinar on congressional action relating to issues affecting the federal community. The webinar will bring you up to date on upcoming budget battles and advancing postal reform legislation and how each could impact all federal and postal employees and retirees. It’s important to know the threats facing the federal community.

The hour-long webinar will be hosted by NARFE Deputy Legislative Director John Hatton on Tuesday, April 4, 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.

State Tax Roundup Available 

NARFE’s Annual State Tax Roundup, featured in the April issue of narfe magazine, also is available to Association members on NARFE’s website here. Most states tax federal retirement benefits, often with some exemption(s), but there are some states with no income tax and some that exempt pensions. NARFE tracks this state-by-state information on an annual basis. Make sure you know how your state taxes federal retirement benefits!

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress
NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use NARFE 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 Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline
This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online 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