The Homeland Security Conference Report (including all the other appropriations bills outstanding for FY 2019) passed the Senate 83-16, and passed the House 300-128 (with 4 not voting) late this evening.
President Trump has signaled that he will sign the bill before the February 15 deadline which will prevent another government shutdown.
NASCOE’s Legislative Team will continue to track the President’s action on the bill and will provide additional updates.
The optimism at the end of last week about a deal on border security spending facilitating a compromise allowing completion of the FY 2019 appropriations process ran into a speedbump on Sunday.
After reportedly resolving the perceived lynchpin issue of border security funding – rumored to be $2 billion, a new issue of contention arose over the weekend. Reportedly, Democratic conferees on the Department of Homeland appropriations conference are insisting on a cap of 16,500 detention beds in the US.
Cynics paint this new matter as Democrats moving the goal post on the conference negotiations, others characterize it as House conferees reflecting the views of the new House Democratic majority, and still others describe it as a natural extension of Democrats’ concerns over the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, etc.
Senators Shelby and Leahy and Chairman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger are scheduled to meet at 3 pm today (2/11) to discuss the status of the conference negotiations and determine the path forward.
Reportedly, an additional weeklong CR is being prepared in case additional time is needed to conclude negotiations/passage of a final deal. None of the stakeholders want another shutdown.
Murmurings of a year-long CR for Homeland Security are also popping up around the Hill, but hopes are that the current negotiations will resolve this new matter and permit completion of the FY 2019 appropriations process.
NASCOE’s Legislative Team will continue to provide updates as this situation develops.
Jesse Wegner, National Association of
FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE) member and President of the Iowa
Association of Farm Service Agency County Office Employees (IASCOE), is
attending the 2019 State of the Union Address tonight as special and honored guest
of Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer.
Each member of Congress is allowed to
invite one guest to the State of the Union Speech. It is a special privilege
and opportunity to have one of our own members attend with Congresswoman
Finkenauer while representing NASCOE.
This honorable invitation highlights
the importance and success of NASCOE’s outreach initiative that benefits all of
our members. We are proud of Jesse’s shining example of building relationships
through our outreach initiatives.
Friday, January 25, 2019 — The House and Senate have now approved the continuing resolution funding the government through February 15.
The legislation will now head to the President’s desk for his signature. Earlier today the President announced the agreement to end the shutdown and stated he would sign the bill to open government for three weeks.
We realize that FSA employees are concerned about timelines for processing and receiving their back pay, and we expect that there will be guidance provided to all employees on Monday when they return to work. Our understanding is that payroll processing will be a priority and processed as quickly as possible.
We are hearing the White House is preparing to announce an agreement to temporarily end the shutdown. At this point, the House and Senate are expected to pass the proposal and send it directly to the President for his signature.
The rumor is a clean continuing resolution through February 15 or 28. This would allow President Trump to salvage a State of the Union appearance and allow federal workers to receive back pay.
NASCOE will be providing more details as we receive them.
On January 22, 2019 the National Office held a teleconference with all Employee Associations in an effort to update them on Agency furlough activities to date.
The call also included Q&A’s.
Attached to this NASCOE News Flash are teleconference notes from the “All Employee Association Furlough Teleconference”
NOTES: The notes are not official agency policy / directive, but rather taken from handwritten contemporaneous notes created by a participant on the reference call.
Many of the items in this document were covered with the NASCOE State Association President’s on the January 23, 2019 call with the NASCOE Officers.
If there are any questions regarding the topics contained in this document, please contact your state association President. They will refer your questions or concerns to the NASCOE Officers through your Area Executives.
“NASCOE Positions on FSA Employees’ ‘Excepted on Call” Status”
NASCOE Guide for Contacting your Congressional Representatives
Since most FSA employees are out of the office today (Wednesday), we should use this opportunity to get busy making these congressional phone calls.
DO NOT USE YOUR GOVERNMENT POSITION, GOVERNMENT TELEPHONE, GOVERNMENT COMPUTER, OR DO THIS FROM YOUR GOVERNMENT OFFICE.
We realize that everyone is extremely concerned about getting paid for providing our services. This is an excellent opportunity for each member to take action to help NASCOE secure equitable and fair working conditions for our employees.
Thank you, Neil Burnette & Donny Green NASCOE Legislative Committee Co-Chairpersons
NASCOE leadership believes it is possible that all
County Office Employees may be called back as “excepted” employees. Excepted employees would be required to
perform limited duties if approved by OMB and to work without pay until
shutdown ends. The negative employee impacts that are the most concerning to
NASCOE are the potential loss of unemployment benefits and the loss of the
ability to utilize outside employment to make ends meet.
NASCOE fully understands that the negative impacts of
the current agricultural economy are compounded by the additional loss of FSA
benefits. While NASCOE is sympathetic to
the burdens our farmers face, NASCOE cannot support sacrificing the financial
security of Farm Service Agency County Office Employees by subjecting them to a
callback without pay.
As fellow employees, we are dealing with the same
financial stress and fully understand the situations that employees are
facing. NASCOE is in constant
communication with Administration leadership in an effort to discuss ways to
minimize the impact on FSA employees.
NASCOE is deeply concerned that the callback could
force some employees to leave the agency and force others to make the decision
to retire. These actions will have a negative long-term impact on FSA’s ability
to provide quality service to our producers when they need us the most.
Trained, experienced and committed employees who leave the agency will not be
NASCOE has been very disappointed in the lack of clear
direction and instructions from the very beginning of this historic
furlough. NASCOE has diligently made an
effort to keep members up to date. Keep in mind this is not official
notification. As details continue to
emerge, NASCOE will be sharing information with our membership as quickly as
possible. Please continue to look for
email correspondence and website updates with the latest news from NASCOE.
The past few days have been very active in preparation of a temporary limited employee call back. This has been a very fluid process and plans have been modified multiple times. Below is the most current information NASCOE has been able to obtain. Also listed below is the latest information regarding situations where a partial paycheck for PP26 was not received.
1. The employee “call back” is intended to protect FSA collateral and assets and to close out 2018 FLP business so that accurate 1099’s can be provided to producers timely.
2. There are a limited number (2500) of employees approved to work during this temporary call back. Original list sent in exceeded this number and states had to cut back.
3. SED’s had the ability to determine who would be called in using this emergency authority. There hasn’t been any consistency from state to state on how that was determined.
4. Employees will be working under the “excepted” status meaning they will not be paid until the shutdown is resolved.
5. This is not expected to be a recurring process at this time .
6. Deadlines for various programs will have to be reviewed once the shutdown is resolved.
7. A communication package announcing the limited availability of staff is being developed and will be provided to states. The National Office and State Offices will deliver this communication to the public.
8. Time spent at work will have a limited scope of approved activity, mainly focusing on FLP, MAL and FSFL servicing. County Offices will be approved for intermittent/incidental activities, meaning they will be able to accept documents for other programs from producers but will not be able to process anything.
9. The initial NFC PAYE salary sweep paid about 90% of the employees that were due a partial payment. They are continuing to run sweep to get the remaining 10% paid. An employee shared this response from the FPAC Business Center regarding not getting paid.
“FPAC HRD had almost all of its exempt employees validating and certifying PP26 T&A’s last week. We were able to get just over 90% certified before the last run of PAYE on Friday. We have been and will continue to run reports and use them to continue to get T&A’s certified. Getting employees paid is always our top priority.”