Government affairs

Legislative Updates

House appropriations subcommittee advances bill with six-day mail provision

On May 25, the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) passed an appropriations measure for Fiscal Year 2017.

Of particular note to letter carriers is the committee’s decision to uphold the long-standing tradition of recognizing the importance of continuing six-day mail delivery by including language in the bill stating that “6-day and rural delivery of mail shall continue at not less than the 1983 level,” and that “none of the funds provided in this Act shall be used to consolidate or close small rural and other small postal offices.”

Last year, when the full Appropriations Committee considered similar budget legislation, lawmakers also included amendments to restore service standards to pre-July 2012 levels. It’s unclear whether the same efforts will take place when the full committee considers the measure in the coming weeks.

Just two years ago, we were fighting tooth and nail to get this language included in an appropriations bill,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “This legislation reflects a shifting Congress that is no longer dedicated to slashing service standards.

“It’s increasingly clear that, with new leadership in Congress and at the Postal Service, there is no longer a ‘shrink to survive’ philosophy,” Rolando said. “Letter carriers must harness this momentum to promote our coalition’s consensus proposals in any comprehensive postal reform legislation currently being considered in the House.”

The FSGG appropriations package also includes an increased salary budget for the Postal Regulatory Commission—$16.2 million—to cover the costs of PRC’s staff increase ahead of its rate-setting review next year. This reflects a $1 million increase over FY 2016 levels and $1.5 million under President Obama’s request of $17.7 million.

Besides the Postal Service, FSGG has jurisdiction over agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Department, the Office of Management and Budget, the General Services Administration, the Judiciary, the Small Businesses Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the District of Columbia. This broad jurisdiction can often fuel partisan funding battles.

Traditionally, the appropriations process is kicked off with a guiding budget resolution that serves as a blueprint for the 12 individual appropriations measures considered each fiscal year. This year, however, House Republicans were unable to pass such a guiding resolution, opting instead to move forward without providing each subcommittee with individualized spending caps that would allow the subcommittees to determine their spending priorities. This strategy has created difficulties and tension as the appropriations process advances.

FSGG’s legislation calls for $21.7 billion in funding, reflecting a $1.5 billion decrease below the FY 2016 funding level and $2.7 billion below the President Obama’s budget request.

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