Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congressional week in review (October 1 - 12)

The House was on recess these past two weeks, while the Senate worked until October 11 before going on recess themselves to campaign ahead of the midterms. Both are technically in pro-forma sessions now, meaning either could return at any time. They are due back on Capitol Hill on November 13.

Senate Activity

On October 3, the Senate voted 99-1 to send H.R. 6, a package of bills that address the nation’s opioid epidemic, to the White House for a signature. Finalized in the House before they left for recess, the package contains some 70 pieces of legislation including the “The Securing the International Mail against Opioids Act of 2018” (H.R. 5788/S. 3057), a replacement for the previously-stalled STOP Act. Ahead of the vote, NALC along with APWU, the NPMHU, and the NRLCA circulated a letter in opposition to the bill. Like the STOP Act, the language approved in H.R. 6 overhauls the international mailing system, 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. The package is expected to be signed into law.

Also on October 3, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Michael Kubayanda to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) for the remainder of a six-year term expiring November 22, 2020. The questions posed to Mr. Kubayanda varied from issues of fentanyl in the mail, postal privatization, finances, the Universal Service Obligation, pricing, and more. While he did express concerns with privatization, Mr. Kubayanda committee to keeping an ‘open-mind’ on all issues, should he be confirmed. His nomination is expected to advance when the Senate returns in November.

Judicial Activity

On October 6, the Senate confirmed Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to fill Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court in a 51-48 vote. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined the majority of Democrats in opposition and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans in pushing through his highly contentious confirmation. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) was not present for the vote, but Vice President Mike Pence was available to break any tie.

On October 11, the Senate confirmed 15 Administrative nominees including several circuit court justices, who they confirmed before adjourning until November.

NALC Activity

On October 8, thousands of letter carriers and other postal employees across the country joined together in more than 200 cities to tell Congress and the Administration, “Don’t privatize the Postal Service!” The rallying call comes in response to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) government-wide reorganization plan that calls for the privatization of USPS. Resolutions in both the House (H. Res. 993) and Senate (S. Res. 633) against privatization have continued to gain bipartisan support with 43 Senators and 227 Representatives signing on as of October 12.

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