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Legislative Updates

House approves FY20 FSGG appropriations bill

The House of Representatives approved the $24.6 billion fiscal year (FY) 2020 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill today. The FY20 FSGG legislation has broad jurisdiction over agencies including 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, and the U.S. Postal Service. The bill passed in a 224-196 vote.

Of primary importance, NALC’s long-standing language was preserved in the bill as “6-day delivery shall continue at not less than the 1983 level.” The continued inclusion of this language in appropriations bills speaks to the good work done by letter carriers these past few years in engaging legislators on both sides of the aisle to reject service and delivery cuts.

Two postal-related amendments to expand financial services and to improve post office wait times were offered and agreed to. 

In response to threats last week from Acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert to furlough 150 Office of Personnel Management (OPM) employees if the proposed merger of OPM with the General Services Administration was not agreed to by Congress by the end of June, an amendment was offered by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and adopted by voice vote preventing OPM from carrying out furloughs or reductions-in-force (RIFs).

Additionally, the bill prohibits funding to “reorganize or transfer any function of authority of the Office of Personnel Management to the General Services Administration or the Office of Management and Budget.” As any such proposal would require legislative support, it was already unlikely to advance and with such prohibitive language approved by the House, the merger is likely dead for the foreseeable future.

Of relevance to the federal community, House appropriators broke from positions held by the President and his administration by advancing language that would provide a 2.6 percent across-the-board pay raise with an additional 0.5 percent adjustment in locality pay, bringing an average 3.1 percent federal pay raise for civilian employees in 2020. Letter carriers and other postal employees would not be impacted by this raise as we bargain collectively over our pay, but this is significant as it would mark the highest increase in pay for federal employees in a decade.

A series of other postal-related provisions made it into the bill’s accompanying report including language recommending USPS to take certain steps and language directing USPS to do certain actions. Recommendations from the report included: that no funds be used to consolidate or close small rural and other small post offices; to continue replacing aging cluster box units with new units and to enhance security of delivery sites; to take all reasonable steps to ensure the postal fleet is equipped with climate control units; to find additional sources of revenue through non-postal products (including surcharge-free automated teller machines [ATMs] in post offices); and to combat the influx of heroin and opioids by increasing the percentage of packages inspected by the Postal Service in coordination with Customs and Border Protection (CBP); among others.

Explicit directions from the report included: requiring the Postal Service to submit a notification to Members of Congress on any postal activities that would impact their constituents including the closing or consolidation of a post office; requiring a report to Congress within 180 days on the adequacy of current personnel levels as it relates to concerns over irregular delivery; requiring USPS to develop and implement a plan to reduce levels of mail theft regionally and locally and to submit a report to Congress every six months on its plan and actions; to examine all alternatives to the current, expiring postal fleet and to submit a report to Congress on its findings; to set up a working group with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve collection and categorization of data as it relates to postal customers; and to provide Congress with a report on the benefits and feasibility of additional sources of revenue; among others.

The Senate has yet to introduce its version of the bill, though the six-day language is likely to be included as it has been in recent years.

NALC will continue to monitor the progression of FY20 appropriations to keep letter carriers up to date.

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