Pay & Benefits Watch Pay & Benefits WatchPay & Benefits Watch
Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Pay and Benefits Watch: Hill happenings

Here's a sampling of what's been going down on Capitol Hill in relation to federal employees' pay and benefits:
  • The Defense authorization bill, H.R. 4205, contains a 3.7 percent pay raise for military personnel and a provision to allow military members the right to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan. It has been passed by the House and Senate and now awaits the President's signature.
  • That same bill provides permanent lifetime TRICARE eligibility to Medicare-eligible military retirees and their family members, beginning in fiscal year 2002. Under current law, military retirees lose TRICARE benefits once they become eligible for Medicare.
  • Disabled veterans would receive a boost in their cost-of-living adjustment under a bill, H.R. 4850, passed by the House this week. Under the bill, the boost would go into effect on December 1, 2000.
  • Military service members eligible for education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill would have a higher monthly allowance-$650-to spend on classes under S. 1402, passed by the House Tuesday.
  • Veterans Affairs nurses would get annual pay raises under S. 1402. VA dentists and other medical personnel would receive increased special pay rates.
  • General Accounting Office managers have been given the authority to boost pay, offer buy-outs and early retirement, and use layoffs to streamline the agency under a bill signed into law by the President earlier this month.
  • Newly hired federal employees could begin investing immediately in the Thrift Savings Plan and employees could roll over funds from private sector retirement plans into their TSP accounts under a bill, H.R. 208, that passed Congress last week. The bill now goes to President Clinton for his signature.
  • A rollback in retirement benefits contributions for federal employees and members of Congress and a one-year extension of the pilot program that allows federal agencies to subsidize child care costs for lower-income employees is included in H.R. 4985, Treasury-Postal appropriations. The bill has been approved by both the House and Senate and now awaits the President's signature.

Scholarships awarded

The Federal Employees Education Assistance Fund recently awarded $275,000 in merit scholarships to 410 children of federal employees as well as to federal employees themselves.

The winners were chosen from a pool of 6,000 applicants for their academic excellence and their committment to community service. Blue Cross-Blue Shield donated $50,000 to the scholarship fund.

FEEA is a private, nonprofit organization that provides educational benefits and emergency assistance exclusively to all civilian and postal federal employees and their dependent family members. FEEA receives no government funds; as a result, all revenue is derived from federal employee contributions specifically pledged to FEEA #2808 in the Combined Federal Campaign. To learn more about FEEA go to

The Federal Managers Association has also recently awarded $1,000 scholarships for this school year to 16 students, dependents of FMA members. FEEA administers FMA's scholarship program.

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