Government affairs

Legislative Updates

113th Congress adjourns

Following passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 funding bill (H.R. 83) and a $41.6 billion temporary tax extenders package, and ending with Senate consideration of some pending nominations, both the House and Senate adjourned this week and will not return to Washington until Jan. 6, when the 114th Congress will be sworn in.

With regard to USPS, all of the major postal reform bills—both the good (H.R. 961 and S. 316) and the bad (H.R. 2748 and S. 1486)—failed to pass during the 113th Congress. This means that, in 2015, letter carriers will have to start the conversation all over again regarding the Postal Service and to push for postal reforms that protect workers and the postal networks. NALC’s preparations are underway to build new relationships and alliances on issues of importance to letter carriers.

As far as the returning members of Congress are concerned, we will to continue to focus on educating them and promoting good legislation that protects letter carriers’ interest and the postal networks.

Concerning pending nominations for postal-related postions, the Senate was able to confirm the two Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) nominations: Nanci Langley and Tony Hammond. For the Postal Board of Governors (BOG), which no longer has a working quorum, none of the five pending nominations were approved in the final hours of Senate business (when the bulk of the other pending nominations were approved). The BOG nominees included Jim Miller, Mickey Barnett, Vikki Kennedy, Stephen Crawford and David Bennett. Miller’s nomination raised some objections due to his previous calls for privatizing USPS. Additionally, Barnett, whose term expired in early December, faced objections from civil rights groups because of his payday-lending background. Since none of the BOG nominations were approved by the end of the 113th Congress, they must be resubmitted during the 114th.

During the 114th Congress, postal issues will almost certainly be prominently debated in the crafting of new postal reform bills, in the annual appropriations process and in ongoing funding debates. Just as we do with each Congress, the NALC in 2015 will get another bite at the apple when shaping policy surrounding our core issues, including protecting six-day mail delivery, addressing the onerous pre-funding mandate, preserving existing service standards and using the Postal Service’s valuable infrastructure and networks to innovate and grow. Protecting the USPS’ viability and future is entirely dependent on letter carrier activists continuing to educate Congress regarding the invaluable services that we provide and our importance to communities around the country.

Our mobilization efforts will be paramount in getting lawmakers to embrace the right postal reform. Please monitor the Government Affairs web page in the coming weeks for news and updates regarding the 114th Congress and NALC’s legislative and political efforts.

House leaders released that chamber’s calendar for the 114th Congress (click here). The Senate has yet to release its calendar. Regarding Congress’ most immediate priorities, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that he will focus on passage of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, on discussion of filibuster rules and on a plan to counter President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. House leaders have signaled that they, too, will explore options to block the president’s immigration action, in addition to looking at other avenues to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

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