Tobacco Bill Passes without Key Federal Retirement Provisions; NFFE Leadership Vows to Fight On


This past Friday, the House of Representatives voted 307-97 in favor of the Senate’s version of H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which lacked many critical provisions for federal employees.

The House version of the bill, passed overwhelmingly in early April, included a number of important federal retirement issues such as granting credit for unused sick leave to employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), reforms to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and a provision to make it easier to return to the federal sector from private employment, among others.

The Senate version, passed by the chamber last Wednesday and then by the House the following Friday, retained provisions addressing TSP reform, but lacked the additional retirement language included in the House version of the bill. This final version included provisions creating a Roth option within the TSP, automatically enrolling new employees, and permitting spouses of deceased federal employees to continue investing in the plan.

“Bluntly speaking, this bill was a hard pill to swallow,” said Randy Erwin, Legislative Director of the National Federation of Federal Employees. “We are deeply disappointed to see the exclusion of a number of critical retirement issues, particularly the sick leave benefit. Nonetheless, we are pleased that we were able to win the TSP reforms for our people.”

The final version of the bill is now on its way to the White House, where it is expected to be signed by President Obama later this week.

“Although we did not prevail this time, we are not done fighting for these critical provisions,” said Erwin. “Federal employees deserve a fair and just retirement, and we are going to keep pushing these reforms until they are passed into law.”