Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Government funding deadline approaches; negotiations underway

As previously reported, Congress has until Dec. 8 to address funding the federal government and raising the nations borrowing authority.

With Congress out of session until after Thanksgiving, this leaves just over a week for it negotiate a deal or to pass another temporary funding measure until a long-term deal can be made.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) has indicated that a temporary funding measure through the end of December is possible while House and Senate leaders work to finalize negotiations around a long-term option. Talks around a two-year deal are underway, complicated by discussions over discretionary spending levels and inclusion of extraneous issues and priorities.

A Republican proposal calls for defense caps to increase by $54 billion and non-defense funds by $37 billion in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, but Democrats are insistent that any increase in defense should be met with an equal increase in non-defense.

Additionally, leaders continue to differ on border security and immigration, with a likely resulti that neither party will achieve their goals. President Donald Trump is pressuring Republican leaders to include money for a border wall, while Democrats want a legislative fix to resume the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Many conservatives are pushing for offsets in any spending package through an extension of the automatic sequester of certain mandatory spending programs, including Medicare, into 2026 and 2027, which could save $28 billion according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Savings also could be found, for example, by changing student loan programs and the Social Security disability insurance program. All of these options have the potential for serious and drastic effects on letter carriers as well as millions of working Americans.

Year-end spending deals often are complicated by talks of folding in non-budget related issues and legislation. NALC will remain engaged in the process to ensure that any talks that deal with our issues are addressed adequately. Letter carriers should be on alert when Congress returns to Washington after the Thanksgiving recess.

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