Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congress departs DC until after elections

Congress adjourned after avoiding a government shutdown and passing a short-term continuing resolution (CR) spending bill. Both chambers will remain in recess for six weeks and return after Election Day. The House will return on Nov. 14, the Senate on Nov. 15.

The CR extends current Fiscal Year 2016 funding levels (decreased by under half a percent) and was included in the "Military Construction and Veterans Affairs" appropriations bill. It granted $82.3 billion in discretionary spending subject to caps, $102.5 billion in mandatory spending and $172 million in "Overseas Contingency Operations" funding. Discretionary Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spending was increased by 4 percent while military construction funding was cut by 5 percent.

The CR also includes $1.1 billion in Zika response funding, $500 million for flood relief in Louisiana and $37 million to help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Here’s what we’re likely to see on Congress' agenda when it comes back to Washington in November:

  • Spending bills: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) have agreed that lawmakers should try to group together Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations measures into packages they can pass as so-called “minibus” measures rather than taking up one big “omnibus” spending bill.
  • Cancer moonshot: Advocates of Vice President Joe Biden’s "cancer moonshot" are seeking $755 million in new funding for the initiative. The funds would be used for new cancer-related research activities both at the National Institutes of Health and at the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Criminal justice reform: Ryan recently doubled down on his commitment to advance before the end of the year legislation that would reduce non-violent drug sentencing requirements.

What’s next for postal reform?

There’s a possibility that the House could take up postal reform legislation; however, leaders on the committee with U.S. Postal Service jurisdiction, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, are waiting for a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office before moving forward. NALC will of course alert letter carriers if there’s any movement—via the e-mail from the NALC e-Activist Network as well as via push notification from the new NALC Member App.

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