Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Budget discussions continue in the House

This week, there was a fair amount of independent activity surrounding various Fiscal Year 2015 budgets proposals—from the House Republicans’ budget to an in-depth hearing on the Obama administration’s budget, it’s been a busy week on Capitol Hill.

On April 10, the House passed Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget (H.Con.Res.36), which serves as the GOP blueprint to balance the budget in 10 years through massive spending cuts. The plan stands by the $1 trillion discretionary spending limit agreed to by both parties as a result of the two-year budget agreement, which temporarily suspended the sequestration process—automatic budget cuts that were enacted in April 2011. To maintain those operational guidelines, the GOP budget request increases defense spending by nearly $480 billion over 10 years while severely reducing non-defense spending to $791 billion less than levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The Ryan measure was passed by a vote of 219-205, with all Democrats voting against the legislation along with 12 Republicans who defected from the party-line vote, including Reps. Paul Broun (GA), Rick Crawford (AR), Chris Gibson (NY), Phil Gingrey (GA), Jack Kingston (GA), David Jolly (FL), Walter Jones (NC), David McKinley (WV), Austin Scott (GA), Ralph Hall (TX), Thomas Massie (KY) and Frank LoBiondo (NJ). Eight lawmakers missed the vote.

“This budget is the Republican declaration of class warfare—it protects the elites at the expense of the rest of the country,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. “By rigging the game in favor of the wealthy and privileged special interests while dismantling the ladder of opportunity for everyone else, it violates the fundamental promise that every hardworking American should have a fair shot at success.”

How does all of this affect letter carriers? Since predetermined spending caps were set into place last year, the GOP budget serves mostly as a messaging document. However, with regard to the Postal Service, House Republicans recommended giving the Postal Service “the flexibility that any business needs to respond to changing market conditions, including declining mail volume.” In other words: elimination of Saturday delivery. The Ryan budget also calls for increasing postal employees’ share of the costs of their health and life-insurance premiums.

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