Reg Jones Expert's View

Alert! While you were busy doing what you do at work or home, the Congress was busy thinking up things that could affect your future. They call them bills, and there aren’t any restrictions on what they can give to – or take away from – you. Here are a few of the bills that range from likely to become law to those that haven’t got a chance.

HR-138, Access to Insurance for All Americans Act. Introduced by Rep. Darrel Issa, R-Calif., it would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a national health program administered by OPM. It would allow anyone who isn’t a federal employee or retiree to be covered by the FEHB but in a separate risk pool. So far, there aren’t any co-sponsors nor has a companion bill been introduced in the Senate.

HR-304, The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, Introduced by Rep. Gerald Connelly, D-Va., it would provide for a 3.8 percent pay raise for federal employees in 2016. So far, it has garnered 57 cosponsors (all Democrats). S. 164, the companion bill in the Senate introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, has garnered 5 cosponsors (all Democrats).

HR-313, Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act. Introduced by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass., it would entitle newly hired federal employees with service-connected disabilities rated at 30 percent of more to 104 hours of sick leave to undergo medical treatment related to those conditions during their first year of employment—that is, they would get the full year’s worth of sick leave upon hiring, rather than having to accumulate it. This bill has collected 25 cosponsors (20 Democrat and 5 Republican). The Senate companion bill (S.164) was introduced by Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., and has five Democrat cosponsors.

HR-485, Wage Grade Employee Equity Parity Act. Introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., it would give the President the authority to provide a pay raise for wage grade or hourly rate employees, an authority he now has for the general schedule. So far, there are 12 cosponsors (9 Democrats and 3 Republicans). A companion bill hasn’t been introduced in the Senate.

HR-532, Government Employee Pension Reform Act. Introduced by Rep. Bruce Westerman R-Ark., it would change the pension calculation from a high-3 to a high-5. It has no cosponsors and no companion bill in the Senate.

HR-785, The Federal Employees Pension Fairness Act. Introduced by Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., the bill would repeal the laws passed in 2012 and 2013 that increased the retirement contributions that new FERS employees have to pay. The bill has 12 cosponsors, all Democrats. A companion bill hasn’t been introduced in the Senate.

H.R 973, Social Security Fairness Act of 2015. Introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., it would repeal both the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). It has garnered 66 cosponsors from Democrats and 19 from Republicans. There isn’t any companion bill in the Senate.

What you want to know is if any of these bills will be enacted and signed into law by the President. Unfortunately, I can’t predict what will happen. However, having watched bills come and go over the years, some identical to these, I’d say the odds aren’t very good. However, if you are for or against any of them, I suggest you let your Members of Congress know. And the same goes for any organizations that represent your interests.