President Signs Appropriations Bill to Fund Government

On Friday afternoon, President Trump signed the legislation to avert another government shutdown and ensures the entire federal government is funded through September 30.

The legislation covers seven appropriations bills:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies;
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;
  • Financial Services and General Government;
  • Homeland Security;
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies;
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

The legislation, H.J. Res. 31, passed the Senate and House yesterday, February 14, 2019.

Photos of NASCOE Legislative Co-Chairs Donny Green and Neil Burnette

Government Funding Update – February 14, 2019

FY19 Appropriations Bill Update

February 14, 2019

Hunter Moorhead, Legislative Consultant

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.

Government Funding Update from Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant

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.

Update on Legislation to Reopen Government

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.

BREAKING NEWS FOR NASCOE’s MEMBERSHIP

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.

NASCOE News Flash – January 24, 2019

Dennis Ray, NASCOE President

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.

Furlough All Employee Association Conference Call notes (PDF)

All-Employee-Association-Meeting-01-22-2019

NASCOE Congressional Contact Toolkit & NASCOE Positions on FSA Employees’ “Excepted On Call” Status

Attached are two documents:

  1. “NASCOE Positions on FSA Employees’ ‘Excepted on Call” Status”
  2. 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-Guide-for-contacting-your-Congressional-Representatives-v.012219FINAL

NASCOE-Position-Paper-on-FSA-Employees-Excepted-on-Call-Status-v.012219FINAL

NASCOE News Flash – January 20, 2019

Dennis Ray, NASCOE President

Fellow NASCOE Members,

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 easily replaced.

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.

NASCOE Legislative News Flash – Update on Update on Furloughed Employee Benefits Legislation

As we approach the 30-day mark in the Government Shutdown, federal employees are feeling more repercussions and stress due in large part to the absence of a full pay check and the overall uncertainty of when the government will reopen.  It is our desire to communicate with NASCOE’s members to the maximum extent to provide accurate and timely information.

In this report, we hope to provide information pertaining to available benefits, proposed legislation, as well as recently passed legislation regarding our pay and benefits during this shutdown. We want to express our appreciation to Clint Bain, Southeast Area Legislative Chairperson assigned benefits legislation, for compiling the following information in this report.

2018 W-2s are available on the Employee Personal Page
NFC is in the process of mailing out tax year 2018 W-2s. The mailing process will continue through Thursday, January 31, 2019.  Of the approximately 705,000
W-2s to be issued, all but about 9,000 are expected to be available on the Employee Personal Page (EPP).  If an employee’s W-2 is not there, they are among the 9,000 in suspense and will require manual intervention by NFC.  As they are released from suspense, they will be mailed and updated to EPP and the reporting center.


Presidential Signed Legislation

2019 Government Employee Fair Treatment Act
The President signed into law on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 the Act that will allow all federal employees who have been furloughed to receive back pay once the government has been funded. It also specifies that federal payroll providers begin to process checks as soon as the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of the next scheduled pay date.  While furloughed government employees do not accrue leave, Congress and the President have authorized a retroactive accrual of leave in the Jan. 16 back pay bill.

Sponsor: Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD] (Introduced 01/03/2019)
Latest Action: 01/16/2019 Signed by President.  
Roll Call Votes: There has been 1 roll call vote




Proposed Legislation

Financial Relief for Feds Act (H.R. 545)
This piece of legislation if passed will allow Federal Employees to withdraw money from their TSP account without penalty.  The Financial Relief for Feds Act allows furloughed federal employees, “essential” federal employees working without pay to make a withdrawal from their retirement savings accounts without the 10% penalty that normally applies. That includes not only Thrift Savings Plans (TSP) but also accounts such as IRAs. Individuals will be able to make multiple withdrawals from their retirement accounts without penalty and will be allowed to recontribute the money to their accounts once the government reopens.

Sponsor: Rep. Olson, Pete [R-TX-22] (Introduced 01/15/2019)
Committees: House – Ways and Means; Oversight and Reform
Latest Action: House – 01/15/2019 Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

To provide loans to employees of the Federal Government and the government of the District of Columbia affected by a Government shutdown, and for other purposes (H.R. 657) introduced by Representative T.J. Cox, D- California
This piece of legislation willgive Federal employees access to a $6,000 loan which would be withdrawn from their pay check once government has reopened.

Sponsor: Rep. Cox, TJ [D-CA-21] (Introduced 01/17/2019) Cosponsors: (84)
Committees: House – Oversight and Reform
Latest Action: House – 01/17/2019 Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The End Government Shutdown Act (S. 104) introduced by Senator Rob Portman, R-OH
This piece of legislation will allow government to run on previous spending levels, an automatic continuing resolution, in the event Congress fails to approve a spending package. 

Sponsor:Sen. Portman, Rob [R-OH] (Introduced 01/10/2019) Cosponsors: (10)
Committees: Senate – Appropriations
Latest Action: Senate – 01/10/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

The Government Shutdown Prevention Act (S. 147) introduced by Senator Rand Paul, R-KY
Would prevent government shutdowns by keeping the government open but instituting a one-percent cut to then-current funding levels for any agency, program, and activity that Congress failed to fund by the start of the fiscal year (October 1). Funding would be reduced by another one percent every 90 days thereafter that an agreement is still not enacted.

Sponsor:Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY] (Introduced 01/16/2019) Cosponsors: (2)
Committees: Senate – Appropriations
Latest Action:Senate – 01/16/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act
Would prohibit landlords and debt collectors from taking action against federal employees unable to pay their bills because of the shutdown.

Sponsor: Sen. Schatz, Brian [D-HI] (Introduced 01/09/2019)
Committees: Senate – Finance
Latest Action: Senate – 01/09/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

NASCOE fully understands the concerns of FSA employees and we will continue to do our best to serve our membership by providing factual and timely communications as developments in this situation occur.

NASCOE News Flash – January 15, 2019

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.”

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President