Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congressional week in review

The House and the Senate were in session this past week, and remain in session through March 23.

Most pressing to letter carriers has been Congress’s focus on passing an omnibus (government funding package) for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2018. First and foremost, Congress’s main job is to determine the federal budget. Because they have failed to come to an agreement over long term funding, the government has been forced to run on a series of short-term, temporary continuing resolutions (CRs) since the end of FY2017 on October 1.

What will be included in this package beyond appropriation measures remains unclear. Talks have focused on provisions on Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, broader immigration, border security, infrastructure, and other unresolved issues. Read up on the budget process here.

In response to the frequent government funding setbacks of recent years, a new bipartisan select committee was formed last week with the express purpose of overhauling the budget process (read NALC’s write up on it here). Its first meeting did not come to any formal decisions, but a proposal to adjust the fiscal year (currently runs from October 1 to the following September 30) to the calendar year is gaining traction within the committee. This proposal could be included in a bill the panel is tasked with writing before November 30.

Finally, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) said he will resign on April 1, becoming the fourth Republican senator in the 115th Congress to declare his resignation or retirement (find the full list of 115th resignations and retirements here).

Bills of Interest Introduced This Week

Of the bills introduced in the House and Senate this week, these are a few letter carriers may be interested in. Note – not all will directly impact letter carriers or federal employees.

  • H.R.5180 – A bill that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 regarding employees receiving tips – protecting such employees from and the Department of Labor’s proposal to allow employers to keep some or all of employees’ tips.
  • H.R.5155 – A bill that would amend the Affordable Care Act regarding the affordability of and access to health insurance coverage – reversing recent presidential executive orders designed to sabotage health care exchanges.
  • H.R.5194 – A bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

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