On Jan. 3, the House of Representatives and the Senate both convened for the first session of the 115th Congress, and the 535 lawmakers from both chambers were sworn-in.
In the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was re-elected as Speaker of the House and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Minority Leader, with little fanfare.
Both chambers now have Republican party majorities: In the House, 241 Republicans, 194 Democrats; in the Senate, 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with Democrats. Both chambers welcomed numerous new members, including 53 in the House (27 Democrats and 26 Republicans) and six in the Senate (five Democrats and one Republican).
The first order of business in the House included adoption of a rules package to govern floor proceedings. Notably, the package reinstated the Holman Rule, allowing for floor amendments to appropriations bills that could target federal employees by reducing the number of federal agencies, by cutting salaries and even by terminating particular employees and eliminating positions. NALC and the Federal-Postal Coalition, which represents 2 million civil servants from 30 organization, lobbied extensively against the Holman Rule’s reinstatement. The Holman Rule likely signals the beginning of numerous attacks on civil servants throughout 2017.
Shortly afterward, the Senate approved S.Con.Res. 3, which paves the way for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) through a separate reconciliation bill. The reconciliation process allows for expedited consideration of certain tax, spending and debt-limit legislation and forbids filibusters. S.Con.Res. 3 also required committees with jurisdiction to develop repeal legislation by Jan. 27.
For NALC, 2017 brings a renewed commitment to working with a broad coalition of partners for postal reform, to maintaining strong services (e.g., six-day mail delivery, door delivery and service standards) and to promoting measures to help the U.S. Postal Service innovate. NALC will continue to work with the Federal-Postal Coalition to fight any proposals to cut pay, reduce the federal workforce or attack retirement benefits.
NALC encourages activists to coordinate with their letter carrier congressional liaisons to begin building or renewing relationship with their House and Senate members.
The first recess for lawmakers will be Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16. For a House and Senate congressional calendar, click here.
For a detailed make-up of both chambers, click here.
For a list of House and Senate leadership and committee assignments, click here.