Washington Watch: Legislative Update
For the Week of 31 December 2018
I. Legislative News and Activity
II. This Week in Congress
III. Update on Top Legislative Priorities
- FOP ANNOUNCEMENT: Day on the Hill Dates and Hotel Information
- FOP News: Social Security Fairness Act Reintroduced
- Support the National FOP PAC
VII. Follow the FOP on Twitter!
LEGISLATIVE NEWS AND ACTIVITY
Executive Director Jim Pasco:
- Spoke to Thomas E. Brandon, Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), regarding the “First Step Act;”
- Spoke to Steven H. Cook, Associate Deputy Attorney General regarding U.S. Department of Justice civil rights actions;
- Spoke to Jennifer S. Korn, Special Assistant to the President, regarding immigration and border security;
- Had conversation with numerous Executive and Legislative branch contacts on adverse effect of current partial government shutdown on law enforcement.
THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
We hope you and your families had a Happy New Year.
The 115th Congress adjourned sine die this week and the 116th Congress was sworn in and seated.
In the House, Nancy P. Pelosi (D-CA) was elected as the next Speaker of the House and Kevin O. McCarthy (R-CA) was elected as Minority Leader.
There was no change of leadership in the Senate, Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) will again serves as Majority Leader and Minority Leader respectively.
No progress is expected on the remaining appropriations bills (see below) and parts of the Federal government remain unfunded and shut down.
Action in the House
The House considered and passed H.R. 21, which would provide appropriations for those U.S. Departments and agencies that have not been funded for the current fiscal year, on a 241-190 vote. The bill now goes to the Senate, which is not expected to consider the bill because of opposition from the Administration.
Funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was not included in H.R. 21 but the House did consider H.J. Res. 1, a continuing resolution providing appropriations for the Department through 8 February, and passed it on a 239-142 vote. As with H.R. 21, the resolution does not have the support of the Administration and is not expected to be considered in the Senate.
UPDATE ON TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
With the end of the 115th Congress, all remaining legislation expires. Staff in the National Legislative Office is already in communication with staff in the offices of the sponsors of our top legislative priorities. As you can see below, one of our top priorities has been re-introduced. We will update this section and our website as they are re-introduced.
Support H.R. 141, the “Social Security Fairness Act”We have 19 cosponsors on H.R. 141.
FOP ANNOUNCEMENT: Day on the Hill Dates Released and hotel information
FOP Day on the Hill is 25-27 February
This year’s Day on the Hill will begin on Monday, 25 February 2019. The National Legislative Office and the National Legislative Committee will host a short briefing on our legislative agenda. The briefing will take place on Monday afternoon at D.C. Lodge #1 and last approximately one hour. The lodge is located at 711 4th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Tuesday and Wednesday, 26-27 February, will be devoted to your meetings with Members from your home States and districts. These appointments should be made in advance!!! Event participants should make every effort to have their Representative or Senator attend the meeting along with the appropriate staff person.
Accommodations for Day on the Hill ParticipantsThe National Legislative Office is fortunate to have secured a room block at the Hyatt Place at 33 New York Avenue NE, close to the NoMa-Gallaudet Avenue Metro Station. The room rate is $179 per night. Members can use this link to make their reservations: https://book.passkey.com/go/FOP2019
Attendees may also call reservations at 1-855-556-1297 and ask for the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police rate.
THE CUT OFF DATE IS 6 FEBRUARY 2019, SO MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS NOW!!!
REMEMBER: The FOP’s Day on the Hill event is a key component of our legislative advocacy strategy and our Grassroots Action Network. Having our members here on Capitol Hill, sitting down with their elected Senators and Representatives has a real and lasting impact on the FOP’s ability to move its agenda through Congress. We are coming off of a very successful Congress, but we need to continue to build on that success and we can’t do that without YOU!
Your participation is critical, and while we look forward to seeing old friends and our Day on the Hill veterans, this year we also want to see some new faces. We are challenging our members who do attend to bring along a lodge member who hasn’t yet participated in this event. By increasing the number of officers that lawmakers hear from, the greater effectiveness we will have as an organization. Talk about Day on the Hill in your lodge meetings and help us help you by increasing our participation.
We need Congress focused on OUR issues and OUR safety. We need you to help make sure our voice is heard and we need more voices!
FOP News: Social Security Fairness Act Reintroduced
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, welcomed the introduction of H.R. 141, the “Social Security Fairness Act,” in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“This has been a top legislative priority for the FOP for many years and we wanted to make sure it was introduced at the very start of this Congress,” Canterbury said. “We are very pleased that Representative Davis is again leading the charge to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset.”
The bill was re-introduced in the House by Representatives Rodney L. Davis (R-IL), along with more than 19 other original cosponsors. The bill would repeal both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) in current Social Security law. In the previous Congress. The bill garnered 195 cosponsors, only 23 less than a majority of the House.
The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) affects workers who spent some time in jobs not covered by Social Security and also worked other jobs where they paid Social Security taxes long enough to qualify for retirement benefits. The provision has a disproportionate effect on law enforcement officers who retire earlier than most other public employees and are more likely to begin a second career after they leave law enforcement. Officers in this position are penalized and may have their Social Security benefit reduced by up to sixty (60%) percent.
“The WEP substantially reduces a benefit that workers had included and counted on when planning their retirement and it substantially penalizes lower-paid public employees with short careers or, like many retired law enforcement officers, those whose careers are evenly split inside and outside the Social Security system,” Canterbury explained. “This is a loss of benefits to which they are entitled, not an adjustment for a ‘windfall.’”
Like the WEP, the Government Pension Offset was adopted to shore up the finances of the Social Security trust fund. This “offset” law reduces by two-thirds the benefit received by surviving spouses who also collect a government pension.
“Nine out of ten times,” Canterbury said, “this so-called ‘offset’ completely eliminates the spousal benefit even though the covered spouse paid Social Security taxes for many years, thereby earning the right to these benefits.”
“The WEP and GPO provisions do not eliminate a windfall for workers, instead they have proved to be a windfall for the Federal government at the expense of public employees. That’s not right and it’s not fair,” he said. “Congress should repeal these inequitable provisions and pass the ‘Social Security Fairness Act.’”
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