Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant May 17, 2019
The current work period has
proven active for agricultural policy proposals and related oversight hearings.
The below provides an update of certain activities that impact FSA programs and
Disaster Assistance — The House of Representatives, on May 10, passed legislation providing assistance for 2018 and 2019 hurricanes, wildfires floods and related disasters. The Senate is currently negotiating with the House to finalize what will become the final legislation. The Senate is expected to debate disaster assistance next week. The House details are summarized below for your review.
House Passed Bill:
$3.005 billion for crop and livestock losses for 2018 and 2019
$480 million for Emergency Forest Restoration Program
$125 million for Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations
$500 million for Emergency Conservation Program
$600 million for Puerto Rico nutrition assistance
$25 million for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands nutrition assistance
$5 million for American Samoa nutrition assistance
$5 million to study Puerto Rico nutrition assistance provided during 2017
Market Facilitation Program payment limitation language:
$900,000 and 75% from agriculture AGI payment limitation
$125,000 payment cap
Market Facilitation Program — The Secretary of Agriculture recently commented that USDA will provide another round of trade assistance. Our contacts believe the total assistance will range between $15 and 20 billion. It is likely that payment rates for specific commodities will be adjusted compared to 2018. Once available, we will provide additional details.
Federal Appropriations — The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to consider the fiscal year 2020 bill on Thursday, May 23. Our meetings with Members and staff have been productive but didn’t provide any details about funding levels. Currently, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, June 11.
H.R. 2478 Federal Retirement Fairness Act — Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) has introduced legislation allowing former temporary employees, in a temporary position after December 31, 1988, to be credited for service under FERS. Unlike previous legislation, this proposal is more favorable by not requiring significant investment by individual employees while giving workers additional credit toward retirement. We will continue to monitor this legislation that could potentially impact many of our members.
As promised in our last update on the pay increase and
retroactive pay issues, NASCOE is sharing some good news from the National
Finance Center (NFC bulletin # 1555103318) on the timing of the receipt of the
pay raise and the retroactive measure.
“On Sunday, April 7, 2019, NFC generated the pay adjustment
actions (NOA 894) for the 2019 retroactive pay increase. What this means is that most employees will see their salary increase
in pay period (PP) 07, with retroactive funds included back to PP01.”
some employees that have intervening personnel actions (within grade Increases
(WGI’s), promotions, and etc.) processed between PP01 and PP06 will not see
immediate pay increases. These scenarios require additional
corrective personnel actions from the Human Resources Offices to process the
salary changes. “Therefore, retroactive funds will be disbursed in subsequent
The entire document notification is posted on the Employee Personal Page (EPP) under “News and Announcements”. Employees with questions concerning this notification should contact their Servicing Personnel Office.
Neil Burnette & Donny Green
NASCOE Legislative Committee Co-Chairpersons
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