NARFE Update February 10, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“I want to thank all those who registered for the 2017 NARFE Legislative Training Conference on March 12-15. Attendees will learn skills that will help them defend against attacks on their earned pay and benefits. One attack already introduced into the 115th Congress, is postal reform legislation, which goes back on promises made to current postal retirees, and sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to future harm for the rest of the federal community. Now is not the time to sit idly by. NARFE members should call and write their legislators and urge them to oppose H.R. 756, the Postal Reform Act of 2017.”

Postal Reform Act Continues Committee Movement

This week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) held a hearing on the Postal Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 756. NARFE strongly opposes this bill on the grounds that it unfairly places the burden of fixing the Postal Service’s financial issues on the backs of its retirees. The bill would require current postal retirees to enroll in Medicare, costing them an additional $134 a month (or more), or face losing their Federal Employees Health Benefits Program coverage. The Medicare late enrollment fee is waived under the bill. This breaks a promise to nearly 76,000 current retirees who previously had declined Medicare coverage. NARFE submitted testimony for the record to OGR in advance of the hearing.

A markup for the bill likely will occur later this month, where it is expected to easily pass out of committee, as the hearing indicated. The previous version of the bill, submitted in the 114th Congress, was approved by OGR, but failed to receive additional action on the House floor.

NARFE urges its members to write their legislators and ask them to oppose this bill. Changing postal retiree’s benefits, after the fact, not only breaks a promise made to them, but also sets a terrible precedent for the rest of the federal community.

President Directs Labor Department to Review Fiduciary Rule

Late last week, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing a review of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) conflict of interest or “fiduciary” rule. The memo requires the DOL to examine the rule to determine whether it should be rescinded or revised.

NARFE applauded the issuance of the rule, noting that the DOL had heard concerns that federal employees invested in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) were receiving unsound financial advice regarding their TSP holdings and options for rollovers once retired. Under previous law, the best interest standard did not apply to advice given on a one-time basis, advice regarding rollovers, or any advice on investing in an individual retirement account (IRA). The fiduciary rule requires investment brokers to put their clients’ best interests first when giving investment advice. NARFE is deeply disappointed by the President’s action, which begins the process of DOL reversing this simple requirement.

The fiduciary rule’s initial compliance date is April 10, 2017, but DOL may issue a new rule delaying that date while it starts the longer regulatory process of rescinding or revising the fiduciary rule.

‘Staying On Course: An Update on the 115th Congress’ Webinar Recording Available

With the 115th Congress underway, it’s important to keep track of the priorities unfolding in the legislature and the new administration. This week, the NARFE Legislative Department hosted a webinar with updates on issues affecting the federal community. Stay informed about postal reform, the federal hiring freeze, proposed changes to the civil service and the workings of critical congressional committees. More importantly, learn how you can take action to protect your earned pay and benefits through NARFE’s new Legislative Action Center. If you were unable to watch the live webinar, you can join NARFE Legislative Director Jessica Klement and Deputy Director John Hatton via the archived video recording. Get the latest news and be ready to take action!