Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Cromni-cromnibus-omnibus: FY 2015 government funding approved

Following weeks of post-election debate regarding the funding of the government beyond Dec. 12, when the last government-funding continuing resolution (CR) was set to expire, House and Senate lawmakers approved the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 (H.R. 83) to fund government operations through Fiscal Year 2015, which ends on Sept. 30, 2015. The House passed the legislation on Dec. 11, the Senate passed it on Dec. 13 and President Obama signed the measure on Dec. 17.

As a part of the funding deal, 11 out of 12 individual appropriations measures were rolled in to an omnibus appropriations bill, which sets total FY 2015 spending at $1.1 trillion. For the 12th appropriation, for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Republicans insisted on a CR lasting through February only, to use that deadline to try to defund the White House’s recent immigration action (see the Nov. 21 Legislative Update), actions that resulted in the so-called “cromnibus” appropriations package and set the stage for battles early in 2015 on funding for DHS.

DHS funding became a source of contention between House and Senate Republicans, who are angry over Obama’s recently announced executive order that protects nearly five million undocumented immigrants from deportation by deferring for three years action on some categories of children and parents.

With regard to USPS, the NALC along with the other three postal worker unions lobbied successfully to retain and preserve our long-standing appropriations language that mandates six-day mail delivery. In addition, the four unions worked with lawmakers to put an end to outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s plan to close and/or consolidate 82 mail processing plants in 37 states, a plan slated to begin in January. In the end, appropriators failed to act after determining that, to keep those plants open, an offsetting budget cut had to be made to satisfy the House’s “PAYGO” rules. However, lawmakers did include language indicating how the USPS Office of Inspector General concluded that USPS had not completed all of the impact analyses (that is, the Area Mail Processing feasibility studies) required by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.

The appropriations text goes on to encourage USPS to “complete the required analysis in advance of the proposed closings, with sufficient outreach and communication to the affected communities.”

In addition, appropriators inserted language in the cromnibus regarding letter carrier safety, specifically directing the postmaster general to report to the Committee on Appropriations of the House and Senate the steps that the Postal Service will take in FY2015 to improve postal worker safety.

The cromnibus also included alarming calls to significantly cut pension benefits for current recipients who are covered under a multi-employer pension plan if that plan is in jeopardy of failure within 15 years and is less than 80 percent funded. Multi-employer pension plans are labor-management retirement plans that together provide coverage to 10 million workers and retirees through more than 1,400 different pension plans.

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