Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Senate committee preserves 6-day appropriations language

Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced its Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) legislation. The measure was introduced by FSGG Subcommittee Chairman John Boozman (R-AR) and Ranking Member Chris Coons (D-DE). The committee approved the bill, 16-14.

The committee included “provisions in the bill to ensure that mail for overseas voting and mail for the blind continues to be free; that 6-day delivery and rural delivery of mail shall continue without reduction; and that none of the funds provided be used to consolidate or close small rural and other small post offices in fiscal year 2016.”

“The inclusion of six-day language in both base bills is a major victory for letter carriers, who have fought to preserve this language for more than 30 years,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “Its inclusion right from the start in both the House and Senate also signals that the narrative for the Postal Service is changing.

“With improving financials, a change in leadership and the recognition by Congress that services are important and do not belong on the chopping block,” Rolando said, “the old ‘shrink to survive’ philosophy is receding. Letter carriers have been relentless advocates about the importance of maintaining mail delivery and service standards. We must continue to use this to our advantage on the Hill as postal reform efforts gathers momentum.”

The committee also acknowledged the Postal Service’s decision to defer most of the mail processing consolidations that had been scheduled to take place this summer under the final stage of its “Network Rationalization Initiative.” The committee included language encouraging USPS to “update the Area Mail Processing feasibility studies for these plans using the most recent available data in advance of implementing the proposed consolidations.”

In addition, the Committee included language on a rural delivery study, directing the Postal Regulatory Commission and the Postal Service

to work together to expand the methodology to report mail delivery performance to specifically include mail delivery from rural towns to other rural towns, from rural towns to urban areas; and from urban areas to rural towns. The Committee requests this methodology within 60 days of enactment of the act, with a subsequent report on the data gathered using this methodology to be provided to the Committee no later than March 1, 2016.

Committee action on the FSGG bill and the 11 other agency bills means that, for the first time since 2009, all 12 appropriations bills were approved by the full committee. It is unlikely that the full Senate will consider any of the appropriations bills, since Senate Democrats have vowed to block debate on all funding measures until Congress agrees to lift sequestration caps on domestic federal spending, as it proposes to do for defense spending.

The House version of the bill, H.R. 2995, received committee approval earlier this month; however, the appropriations process in the House is stalled, leaving at least six appropriations bills incomplete.

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