Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Lame-duck agenda

On Thursday, Congress recessed for the Thanksgiving holiday and will return on Dec. 1 to tackle outstanding legislative business, primarily funding the government beyond Dec. 12, when the current continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government now is set to expire. Over the last several weeks, House and Senate appropriators and leaders have been discussing the details and the duration of such a funding measure. Given that the outcome of the elections shifted power in favor of the GOP in the House and Senate beginning in January, there has been much discussion about whether funding will be extended for the short-term, allowing the 114th Congress to immediately set its priorities. Alternatively, the current Congress could provide funding through the end of the fiscal year, which would give the new Congress more time to set its tone and priorities. Most prominent discussion has revolved around the idea of a “CR-omnibus,” which would combine both short-term funding for more contentious issues and long-term funding for others. This would entail passing an omnibus appropriations measure, which combines all annual spending bills into one bill at agreed-upon spending levels.

Before Congress departed for Thanksgiving, President Obama carried out his pledge to take administrative action if the Congress failed to enact immigration reform by the end of the year. He announced an executive order that protects nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation by deferring action on certain categories of children and immigrant parents for three years. Although presidents from both parties over the years have issued similar orders, and although most lawyers agree that the president has the discretion under the law to prioritize deportations, Obama's announcement has infuriated the Republican party, which is now threatening to use the appropriations process to block the president by withholding the funding needed to enact the administration’s changes. The standoff has resulted in an unclear process for the House and Senate for reaching agreement on funding the government.

What does this mean for letter carriers? The four postal unions have been lobbying to secure moratorium language in whatever funding mechanism moves at the end of the year to prevent the closure and consolidation of 82 mail processing plants in 37 states. NALC and the other postal unions continue to lobby lawmakers on the importance of this language, and we encourage NALC members to continue voicing their concerns over this ill-conceived consolidation idea that would essentially eliminate overnight delivery to communities and create service problems for letter carriers and for our customers.

In addition to appropriations legislation, it is expected that the Senate will take up pending nominations and continue negotiations with the House on some tax extenders.

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