NASCOE News Flash – NASCOE President Update, January 4, 2019

Hello Everyone,

As we go into the weekend without a resolution to the shutdown, our legislative Consultant Hunter Moorhead, has provided an update on where the process is currently. You should be receiving that soon if you haven’t already.  

NASCOE appreciates the answers shared by FSA leadership and the Business Center to questions we submitted last week as the shutdown began, however we know that many questions remain.  While there isn’t much new information to pass on, we will try to share what we know.

  • PP 26 pay status.  Information provided last week indicated that PP 26 would process on schedule for the time the agency was funded.  As of right now we have not received guidance on the logistics of how that will work.
  • The FAQ document provided in the email from the Secretary’s Office has some good information.  If you did not forward that to your home email, a copy of it will be posted to the NASCOE webpage.
  • NASCOE will continue to monitor both congressional and departmental developments.  Hopefully there will be more information to share soon.
  • The NASCOE webpage is being updated to include links to the OPM webpage that contains information on the lapse in funding, including information on unemployment resources. Since each state is different NASCOE will provide the link from OPM as opposed to trying the provide specific answers.
  • The NASCOE webpage is in the process of adding a page devoted to furlough and shutdown information. That should be done by the morning of January 5th and our publicity chair will send out an update when that page is live.

As we wait for further guidance, please continue to send your questions up through your state presidents and area execs.  We will forward those questions to leadership for their review and response. As unusual as this shutdown has been, answers are difficult to come by. As mentioned above the NASCOE webpage will post all available information so please follow www.nascoe.org for the latest updates.

Dennis Ray, NASCOE President

NASCOE Legislative Committee FY19 Appropriations Update–January 4, 2019

January 4, 2019
Appropriations Update
Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant

Another week has passed without an agreement to reopen the federal government. The President hosted a meeting today with Congressional Leadership to discuss how to fund border security wall and reopen the government. While folks believe progress was made, the government will remain closed into next week. The below text outlines the public conversation between negotiators. In addition, the House Appropriations Committee today introduced disaster legislation. As you all know, we will provide information should the President or Congress announce any deal to reopen the federal government. 

Following Meeting with President Trump

Speaker Pelosi:

  • We will continue talking
  • We cannot resolve the issue until the government reopens
  • We are committed to defending the country and our constitution

Schumer:

  • Don’t hold millions of Americans hostage…open the government and continue the discussions
  • President resisted…said he would keep the government closed for months or years
  • Must open the government

Press – Progress on a dollar figure?

  • Pelosi – we made some progress on the negotiations

Trump:

  • Incredible job growth…factories are moving back to the US…312,000 jobs
  • Productive meeting – Pelosi and Schumer…on the same path
  • Additional meetings this weekend
  • Border Patrol laid out the problem
  • You see people entering where we don’t have walls…officer shot and killed
  • Ports of entry have walls…these people go to the weakest part…some walking
  • Wall in CA is working
  • Built by US Steel Companies
  • Team will work over the weekend
  • We are 5.6 billion…may add other items

Pence:

  • Two weeks into the shutdown…crisis on the border
  • Everyday 2,000 people are stopped trying to enter the country
  • Trump provided the leadership American people expect…committed to build a wall on the southern border
  • Pence, Kushner and Secretary Nielsen will lead the weekend negotiations

McCarthy:

  • Two hour productive meeting
  • President needs border security and the government open
  • We will get this done

House Appropriations Committee
Emergency Disaster Appropriations bill

Title I – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

Agricultural Programs — $1.1 billion. Payments for crop and livestock losses due to hurricanes, typhoons, volcanic activities, or wildfires during 2018. 

Emergency Forest Restoration Program — $480 million.  Assistance to owners of private forests to restore disaster-damaged forests. 

Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations — $125 million. Financial and technical assistance to states and local sponsors to protect and restore watersheds up to 250,000 acres.

Rural Community Facilities Program — $150 million.  Grants for facilities to provide health care, education, public safety, and public services to rural communities.

Nutrition Assistance Program for Puerto Rico — $600 million.  Additional funding to continue disaster nutrition benefits in Puerto Rico during its recovery from Hurricane Maria. 

Nutrition Assistance Program for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) — $10.2 million.  Additional funding for nutrition benefits in CNMI following typhoons in September and October.

In addition —

  • Provide trade mitigation assistance through the Market Facilitation Program to producers who derive at least 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities.

§ Provide trade mitigation assistance through the Market Facilitation Program to producers who derive at least 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities.

Furlough Update – December 28, 2018

Dennis Ray, NASCOE President

Many questions still remain about the furlough and how to proceed. I have just received the following information from the FPAC Business Center and FSA leadership.

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President

  1. Coding time — The county employees should code their timesheets for days worked, holidays on December 24 and December 25, as well as any leave taken between December 26 and December 28 before the furlough which takes effect at close of business on December 28. Once we have guidance from the Department’s Office of Human Resources Management and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regarding timesheet coding for the furlough days, we will provide guidance from the FPAC Human Resources Division. Keep in mind there may be legislation enacted to pay employees for the days they were furloughed.
  2. Retirements — Per OPM regulations, regardless of whether there is a furlough, retirements are retroactive to the date employees make them effective. Employees will also not lose any leave over 240 hours, as it may be restored.
  3. Salaries — PP 25 salaries will be paid on schedule. PP26 paychecks for exempt employees will be paid on schedule. Exempt employees, per the Department’s Office of Human Resource Management (OHRM), will not have to wait to be paid until the furlough is over.
  4. Leave — Leave taken while county employees are still funded is treated just like leave taken under normal funding – “business as usual”. Any scheduled leave on a furlough day is cancelled and the hours are treated as furlough time.
  5. Shutdown procedures — The instructions for orderly shutdown were in the attached letter which the county employees received on the morning of Wednesday, December 26, 2018.
  6. Furlough letter — The official furlough notice was provided on Wednesday, December 26 and the FPAC Human Resources Division will not be issuing another letter to county employees. The furlough begins at close of business on Friday, December 28, and employees can either complete shutdown activities today before they leave (December 28) or come into the office on Monday, December 31 to do so. If they cannot come into the office, the shutdown procedure can be completed upon their return to the office.
  7. Services to the Service Center — I do not know whether services will be affected at service centers. Here in Washington, DC, even though folks are working in this building, we have no services, such as trash pickup or cleaning.

NASCOE News Flash – Shutdown Update: December 21, 2018

As you are all aware, the agency has begun planning for a potential shutdown in case there is a lapse in funding.  The National Office conducted a conference call Friday afternoon with the employee associations to discuss the current status of the shutdown and to explain how employees would be affected going forward.  I would like to share some of the main points from the conference call.

  • Non-Federal CO employees and Federal GS employees are funded separately.  Due to carryover funds from previous appropriations Non-Federal CO employees will continue to work if a partial shutdown occurs and GS employees will not.
  • It is estimated the FSA has enough carryover funds for CO employees to work 4-6 days.  It is our understanding that Monday and Tuesday holidays will take up 2 of those days.
  • NRCS has more unexpended funds than FSA and they will remain at work longer than CO FSA employees if there is an extended furlough.
  • Unlike previous furlough situations, employees on leave will NOT be required to come in when the furlough begins to sign a letter of acknowledgement.  Employees will be able to do that on the first day after their scheduled leave.

Please be assured that NASCOE is constantly monitoring the situation, both with the agency and Congress.  Our legislative consultant and legislative committee have been sending out updates as they happen.  Please take this opportunity to reach out to your state associations to make sure you are on their distribution lists.  Also follow NASCOE News for Facebook and the NASCOE webpage for updates.  We will be posting any new information as it becomes available. 

Respectfully submitted,

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President

https://nascoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/NNF_Shutdown_update_2018_1221.pdf

NASCOE Legislative Update – – December 17, 2018

Appropriations Update

NASCOE Legislative Consultant Hunter Moorhead

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue to negotiate the final spending package before the December 21 deadline. We expect the Senate will soon release a new draft bill for full Senate consideration. In addition, Senator Schumer and President Trump will meet again tomorrow to discuss funding for the immigration/border wall. We hope the two will agree to a pathway forward for funding the government.

Do we know if the government will shut down? We currently believe the government will not shutdown. However, the President is the only person who will decide to sign or veto any agreement. We are hopeful he will signal support following introduction of the Senate omnibus appropriations bill.

NASCOE is constantly monitoring developments with this funding bill and we are committed to providing timely updates when new information becomes available.

FY19 Appropriations Bill Update–v.121718

Legislative News Flash–2018 Farm Bill & FY19 Appropriations Updates

NASCOE Legislative Update for November 26

With the elections nearly complete, we are actively working to finalize both the 2018 Farm Bill and the 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Let us know if you need additional information about the topics listed below.

Elections – Today’s Mississippi Senate race between Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy will be the final federal election.  If Hyde-Smith wins, the Senate Republicans will continue their control by a margin of 53 – 47.  As previously noted, the House of Representatives will shift to Democratic control allowing Congressman Collin Peterson to chair the Agriculture Committee.

Farm Bill Reauthorization – The House and Senate Ag Committee leadership are working tirelessly to finalize Farm Bill negotiations.  As of noon today, an agreement had not been reach regarding the conservation title and forestry related provisions. However, we still believe the process is wrapping up and the final details should be available soon.  We have been able to address most all of our concerns and believe the final agreement will be an improvement for both FSA and production agriculture.

Appropriations – Five appropriations bills representing 75% of the Federal budget have been enacted and signed into law (DoD, LHHS, Energy & Water, Milcon/VA, Legislative Branch).  Of the remaining seven bills, four (Agriculture, Financial Services/General Government, Interior, Transportation/HUD) are in a minibus which has largely been conferenced, and substantial work has been done between the House and the Senate on the other three bills (Commerce/Justice/Science, Homeland, and State/Foreign Operations).

The agencies covered by the seven outstanding bills are currently being funded by a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on December 7th.

Reportedly, there is agreement between the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs and Ranking Members on a schedule to move the remaining seven bills in one package. The White House agrees with that approach.  To complete action on a seven bill appropriations package and move it through both the House and the Senate before the CR runs out on December 7th, decisions on outstanding issues and funding levels should be made by Sunday, December 2nd.  The most difficult remaining issue is the funding level and conditions on funding for the Border Wall/Border Security — the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations bill contains $1.6b and the House version contains $5b.

Over 100 House members who are retiring or who lost their seats are currently working out of cubicles (they’ve been kicked out of their offices so those spaces can be available for incoming members).  Predictably, those 100 members are less than enthusiastic about dragging this Congress out any longer than necessary.  There is likely to be some emergency funding included for recovery from this year’s hurricanes and wildfires in the final appropriations vehicle moving through this congress, as well as some extraneous legislative items (Farm Bill, Flood Program extension, etc.).

Since the President can veto any spending bill that doesn’t satisfy his desires on funding for the Border Wall/Border Security, the confrontation/negotiation on the issue could easily result in an impasse that precludes completion of a seven bill wrap-up appropriations package.

Should an agreement be unattainable by the 7th of December, another continuing resolution could be passed to prevent any government shutdown.

Everyone wants to complete action on the FY 2019 appropriations bills. Everyone wants to go home as early as possible. Everyone understands that everyone else wants to finish and go home and accordingly, the party who is willing to hold out the longest and inflict the most pain on themselves and everyone else may believe a willingness to stay and precipitate a partial government shutdown would give them leverage in the negotiations.  

An orderly completion of the FY 2019 Appropriations process and timely passage of a seven-bill wrap-up package is possible but unlikely given the rhetoric, staked out positions, and likely posturing to both parties’ bases on the Border Wall/Border Security Issue. 

If an agreement is reached before or on December 7th, a two or three day continuing resolution could be passed to avoid any government shutdown while the final agreement moves through the Congress. 

A number of Members of Congress met with President Trump this afternoon to continue budget negotiations. We will provide another update later this week regarding the chances of any government shutdown.  

Hunter Moorhead
NASCOE Legislative Consultant

Printer-Friendly Version  (opens in PDF)