Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congressional week in review (September 10-14)

The House and Senate were in Washington this week working to pass appropriations bills ahead of the end of the fiscal year (FY) on September 30, but were forced to cut short the work week in order for Members impacted by Hurricane Florence to focus on their families and constituents. Once they deem it safe enough to return, the Senate will be in session for the rest of the month, while the House will return on September 25 to a very packed schedule and only four days to pass a temporary funding measure.

House Activity

On September 13, the recently introduced House Resolution 993 (H. Res. 993), which calls on Congress to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the Postal Service remain an independent agency of the federal government and not be subject to privatization, reached 184 cosponsors (150 Democrats, 34 Republicans). Thanks to the hard work from letter carriers across the country, NALC’s latest priority resolution is over 80 percent of the way toward our goal of 218 cosponsors, and all in less than 60 days! We can’t stop here though, we need to reach a minimum of 218 cosponsors in the House, which would represent a majority of support for the resolution in the chamber.

On September 13, Congressional conferees met to iron out differences with H.R. 6147, the appropriations act that, among other departments and agencies, would fund Financial Services and General Government (FSGG). Conferees will consider whether to adopt a 1.9 percent federal employee pay raise included in the Senate’s FY19 FSGG spending bill or follow the President’s lead who announced his intention to rescind the scheduled pay increase for federal employees in 2019.

Before leaving, the House passed H.R. 5895, the FY19 appropriations bill that would fund Energy and Water, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction, and notably Veterans Affairs, clearing it to send to the President for a signature once the Senate has approved the measure.

On September 10, House Republicans introduced three bills that would further overhaul the tax code, following the December 2017 passage of the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), which overwhelmingly benefits those who make $200k+ per year and which is projected to increase the national debt by $1.9 trillion between 2018 and 2028, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The bills (H.R. 6760, H.R. 6757, and H.R. 6756), while not yet evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), are expected to add up to an additional $3.2 trillion to the federal deficit.

Senate Activity

On Monday, September 17, the Senate plans to vote on a package of House-passed bills (H.R. 6) that look to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. The package includes verbatim language from the House-passed Securing the International Mail against Opioids Act of 2018 (H.R. 5788), which was drafted as a replacement for the stalled STOP Act (H.R. 1057, S. 372). Like H.R. 5788, the language being considered 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. Along with the APWU, the NPMHU, and the NRLCA, NALC circulated a letter in opposition to the bill ahead of its passage in the House.

Judicial Activity

The Senate is also focused on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whose pathway to confirmation appeared clear, but Senate Judiciary Committee investigations have slowed the process and made his rise to the highest court in the land uncertain.

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