Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congressional week in review June 11-15

The House and Senate were in session this past week and will remain so through June 29 before heading backing to their respective districts and states.

House and Senate Activity

On the House side, the Postal Reform Act has been reintroduced as H.R. 6076 to replace the stalled H.R. 756. Beyond a few date changes, the bill is effectively indistinguishable from the original committee-passed version. The bill was reintroduced as a means for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to reclaim the measure following committee leadership changes and to work parallel with Postal Task Force recommendations.

The House Appropriations Committee passed its FY19 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill Tuesday with language preserving six-day mail delivery and upholding service standards. The Senate has yet to introduce its counterpart bill.

As of last week, all NALC priority resolutions have a bipartisan majority of Congress supporting them, making it highly unlikely that some in Congress might try to use the legislative process to cut them.

In what is expected to be a two-week stretch of opioid-related votes, the House passed a series of measures this week to combat the country’s ongoing opioid epidemic. Legislation included:

The Securing the International Mail against Opioids Act of 2018, H.R. 5788, drafted as a replacement for the stalled STOP Act (H.R. 1057, S. 372), overhauls the international mailing system and forces USPS to require advanced electronic data (AED) on all international shipments by 2020, and imposes harsh penalties on the agency if it fails to comply.

NALC opposed H.R. 5788 as amended and along with the American Postal Workers Union, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, circulated a letter ahead of the House vote in opposition. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a companion bill, S. 3057, identical to the House-passed version, and NALC will actively engage on the Senate side as the bill progresses.

On the Senate side, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) advanced a series of bills Tuesday, including two related to USPS.

S. 3047, the Opportunities to Provide for Illicit Opioid Interdiction and Detection Act of 2018, establishes a drug screening technology pilot program to combat the importation of opioids from inbound international mail and at the border, and would inspect letters, flats, and parcel mail, as well as mail transport shipment containers and bags.

S. 1204, Post Office Discontinuance Accountability Act of 2017, establishes procedures for USPS to carry out emergency suspensions of post offices, which comes as a result of post offices remaining on the Postal Services suspension list for longer than intended, instead of following the correct protocol for closure and consolidation.

Next week, both chambers are expected to continue work on opioid legislation and appropriations measures. The Senate is expected to vote on the House-passed White House “rescissions” cuts package.

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