Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Senate HSGAC advances series of bills including opioid and postal bill

Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) held a business meeting to consider two nominations and a series of measures, including a number of postal naming bills. Of particular note, the committee advanced both nominees and 14 bills, including “Opportunities to Provide for Illicit Opioid Interdiction and Detection Act of 2018” (S. 3047) introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)and the “Post Office Discontinuance Accountability Act of 2017” (S. 1204), introduced by Sens. McCaskill and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

S. 3047 would establish a drug screening technology pilot program in the effort to combat the importation of opioids from inbound international mail and at the border. The mail screening technology would inspect letters, flats, and parcel mail, as well as mail transport shipment containers and bags, while the border technology would screen motor vehicles, pedestrian traffic, and cargo.

The country’s ongoing opioid epidemic has spurred Congress to introduce a number of measures over the course of the 115th, some of which include provisions regarding the Postal Service. This particular bill does not appear to directly impact USPS and NALC will carefully monitor its progress.

The other bill, S. 1204, would establish procedures by which USPS may carry out emergency suspensions of post offices, for reasons including natural disaster or damage to/destruction of a post office, as well as the response to such a suspension. Should one occur, the District Manager implementing the suspension must:

  1. Provide immediate notice to Headquarters, local officials, and customers
  2. Establish alternate service as quickly as possible
  3. Temporarily reassign each employee of the post office
  4. Form a suspension review team (to provide recommendations on continued suspension or reopening)

Depending on the recommendations of the review team, the District Manager would either issue discontinuance procedures, or publish a plan to restore service to the area within 180 days.

“Missourians who have seen their postal service delayed or suspended because of natural disasters should expect those same facilities to be reopened as soon as possible,” said Sen. McCaskill, the Ranking Member of HSGAC, which has jurisdiction over the Postal Service. “Using a disaster or any other emergency provision as a back door to permanently close post offices isn’t right and it shouldn’t be allowed.”

The bill comes as a result of post offices remaining on the Postal Services suspension list for longer than intended, instead of following the correct protocol for closure and consolidation. In effect, this work-around results in post offices remaining closed and mail not being delivered in a timely manner. NALC believes that mail services should be restored as soon as the Postal Service is able. As such, NALC will closely monitor the progression of this legislation.

The nominations and bills now proceed to the Senate floor for consideration.

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