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FMA Washington Report: August 8, 2022

This report provides an update on issues affecting federal managers. As always, I encourage you to visit www.fedmanagers.org on a regular basis for more information on these and other matters.

Also, be sure to look for the monthly FMA Grassroots Update, where we offer links to action letters and FMA-PAC matters we do not address in the Washington Report. The grassroots newsletter is sent exclusively to non-governmental email addresses to avoid any Hatch Act violations. If you are not receiving it, contact the national office to provide your non-governmental email address.

Please feel free to provide feedback any time by emailing Greg Stanford at gstanford@fedmanagers.org or by calling the National Office at (703) 683-8700. Thank you for your membership in FMA. It’s an honor to represent your interests before Congress and the administration.

Legislative Outreach
House Passes NDAA with FMA-Backed Amendment Preventing a Schedule F

On July 14, the House passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA – H.R. 7900) by a strong bipartisan vote of 329-101. The bill would authorize $840.2 billion in spending for the Pentagon.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “For over six decades, the NDAA has served the American people as a legislative foundation for national security policymaking rooted in our democratic values. Today’s successful vote marks another chapter in that history – with considerable gains for those currently serving our country in uniform.” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the ranking member of the committee, said H.R. 7900 is “the definition of a bipartisan bill.”

During deliberations of the bill on the floor, the House adopted the FMA-endorsed Connolly-Fitzpatrick Amendment that would prevent any administration from creating a "Schedule F" without Congressional approval. The amendment passed by a vote of 215-200. FMA opposed the original Executive Order that created Schedule F in late 2020, and signed onto a joint letter with the Federal-Postal Coalition to all members of the House in support of the Connolly-Fitzpatrick Amendment.

Update on Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations and Pay Raise for Federal Employees

The House of Representatives passed a “minibus” appropriations package including six of the 12 funding bills prior to the August recess, signifying the most progress to date on funding Fiscal Year 2023. The package includes spending bills for the following: Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Interior and Environment; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. The spending package advanced by a vote of 220-207. The Senate has not passed any appropriations bills to date. For an up-to-date table on the status of appropriations, please click here.

The Financial Services and General Government bill, included in the package, stayed silent on the subject of federal pay, effectively endorsing President Biden’s proposal for an average 4.6 percent boost in 2023. This would be the largest pay increase in 20 years, although FMA still supports the 5.1 percent raise as called for in the FAIR Act. Language unveiled in the Senate would also point toward a 4.6 percent raise in 2023.

GPO/WEP Legislation Reaches Milestone for Consideration on House Floor

The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82), FMA-endorsed legislation that would eliminate the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), has cleared a hurdle and could be considered for a vote on the House floor.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), now has more than 290 cosponsors. House rules allow a member of Congress to file a motion to place their legislation on the Consensus Calendar if it has at least 290 cosponsors for 25 legislative days. H.R. 82 has achieved that milestone, and Rep. Davis filed the motion to bring the bill up for a vote on the House floor. Rep. Davis has introduced similar legislation in many sessions of Congress, and this is the most progress the bill has ever gained. FMA has steadfastly supported the repeal effort for many years.

In a statement, Rep. Davis said “The Social Security Act as it exists today unfairly penalizes millions of public service workers, including police officers and firefighters, who paid taxes into the system during their careers. These unfair and egregious provisions in Social Security must be repealed.” FMA agrees completely with Mr. Davis. To read his full statement, please click here. Congressman Davis summarized the two offending provisions this way:

House Approves First Responder Fair Retire Act

In July the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed Senator Tester’s First Responders Fair Return for Employees on Their Initial Retirement Earned (RETIRE) Act, which will help federal firefighters, law enforcement officers, Customs and Border Protection officials, and other federal employees with potentially dangerous jobs receive their full retirement benefits if they get hurt while on duty.

Sen. Tester explained the bill in a recent press release: “Because of the physically demanding and dangerous nature of these federal jobs, designated “6c” occupations, Congress created an accelerated retirement system and established a mandatory early retirement age of 57. These employees pay a higher percentage of their wages toward their retirement, and are entitled to an annuity after 20 years of service. Currently, if they are injured at work and unable to complete their mandatory years of service, funds that they’ve paid into early retirement are eliminated, even if they return to the federal government in a non-6c position. The First Responders Fair RETIRE Act will allow federal public safety officers to retain their enhanced 6c retirement status when they return to the federal government after getting injured in the line of duty. They would still be able to retire after 20 years of federal service and will also be eligible to receive a lump sum payment of the benefits owed from their 6c retirement funds.”

FMA Working For You!
Delegate Norton to Introduce Legislation on Salary Compression

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has said she plans to introduce a bill to provide relief from the pay caps that affect employees in the General Schedule. This proposal would help address an FMA issue brief we have advocated for in recent years.

FMA’s 2022 issue briefs note, “The federal pay ceiling cap has not kept up with the higher cost of living in many cities across the United States. This issue plays a role in recruitment and retention to the federal workforce, which already has hiring issues. If an employee is offered a promotion at a higher level, with more responsibilities, but no corresponding salary increase, will they take on the new role? Technology employees who are now capped may be tempted to leave the government for the private sector, where there is no pay cap. Congress must address this problem before it grows exponentially.”

FMA National President Craig Carter Visits Capitol Hill

FMA National President Craig Carter visited Washington, D.C., on July 25 and had a full day of meetings with congressional staff; House and Senate, Republican and Democrat.

He began his day with staff from the Office of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), then met with the Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management. He also met with the Staff Director for the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the office of Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA).

FMA Chapter 373 Wins FOIA Appeal That Requires U.S. Marshals Service to Disclose Previously Redacted Information

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy, recently remanded a FOIA request filed by FMA Chapter 373 back to the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) "for further processing of the responsive records" after USMS improperly redacted information from an earlier disclosure that hid the identity of some agency executives and the tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses they received from taxpayer funds. Click here to read more.

What's Affecting Feds?
Progress on Thrift Savings Plan Transition

While the Thrift Savings Plan’s (TSP) transition to a new recordkeeping system has admittedly been bumpy, the Federal Thrift Retirement Investment Board (FRTIB) reports there is light at the end of the tunnel. Many of those with funds invested in the TSP, including many FMA members, have had difficulty accessing their accounts and finding information. However, the board announced they expect the TSP call center will see a return to “normalcy” as early as the middle of the August.

On Capitol Hill, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the shortcomings TSP saw during the transition.

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