News & information

NALC Legislative Update: June 20, 2014

House leadership shelves Highway Trust Fund—USPS offset

Over the past few weeks, the House of Representatives and the Senate have been discussing ideas to inject resources into the Highway Trust Fund, which is expected to run out of money in August. As you are aware, House Republican leader took immediate aim at six-day mail delivery as an “offset.” (See the June 6 update.)

The postal offset received a wide range of resistance from labor, businesses, the Heritage Foundation, and rank-and-file members of Congress, to name a few. It now appears that this idea has been shelved while House and Senate lawmakers scramble to find a more palatable fix.

The Senate has now turned its attention to a number of transportation-related taxes and fees, falling just short of raising the gasoline tax.

House subcommittee introduces appropriations measure without six-day language; House and Senate mark-ups next week

This week, the House Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) subcommittee released its Fiscal Year 2015 FSGG Appropriations bill, which would provide a total $21.3 billion in discretionary funding to a diverse group of agencies and activities, including: financial regulators, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the White House, the federal courts, the District of Columbia, the General Services Administration and the Small Business Administration.

Most importantly for letter carriers, this bill has traditionally included language that preserves Saturday delivery. Unfortunately, Subcommittee Chairman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) introduced the bill without our language. As a result, when the full appropriations committee marks up the bill, the language will have to be reinserted before it passes the committee.

In his opening statement before the subcommittee meeting, Chairman Crenshaw highlighted the purposeful omission from his bill of the longstanding language preserving Saturday delivery. “The postmaster general, the president and the House authorizing committee have asked us to drop this language. I know this is a controversial topic and I am sure there will be more discussions on it as the bill moves forward.”

The subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) is expected to offer an amendment to restore the six-day language in the bill.

“I am highly disappointed that we have not included this important and longstanding provision that has bipartisan support,” Serrano noted at Wednesday’s brief subcommittee meeting. “I am prepared to offer an amendment in full committee to restore this long-standing provision. Our seniors, rural and urban residents, and many others depend on it.”

Currently, a bipartisan majority of the House supports maintaining six-day delivery. When this was written, the full committee had not released its full-committee mark-up date. The full Appropriations Committee will mark up the FSGG bill at 10 a.m. this Wednesday, June 25.

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government is scheduled to markup its own measure this Tuesday, June 24. The Senate bill is expected to retain the six-day delivery mandate.

Next week, NALC will call on letter carriers represented by members of the House Appropriations Committee to contact representatives and urge them to support the Serrano amendment to reinsert six-day delivery.

“We have a lot at stake in the appropriations process,” NALC President Fredric Rolando noted. “The future of the Postal Service depends on keeping Saturday delivery so that new competitors don’t challenge our standing as the most efficient and cost-effective provider of delivery services, six days a week.”

Shakeup in House leadership

On Thursday, House Republicans elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to become the new House majority leader, replacing Eric Cantor (R-VA), who unexpectedly lost his House seat in the Virginia GOP primary to college professor David Brat. McCarthy beat Tea Party candidate Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID).

Cantor was the first majority leader to lose in a primary election since the majority leader position was created back in 1899. The day after his June 10 loss, Cantor announced that he would be stepping down from his leadership position at the end of July.

McCarthy, who serves as House majority whip, beat conservative Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). With McCarthy’s elevation to the No. 2 spot in House leadership, an additional election had to be held to replace him during the closed-door caucus meeting that followed the majority leader vote.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was selected to replace McCarthy as whip. Scalise, who represents the more conservative arm of House Republicans, beat Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), who is currently part of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) leadership team, and Tea Party member Rep. Marlin Stuzman (R-IN). Scalise also is chairman of the conservative Republican Study Group.

The whip battle symbolizes internal friction within the House Republican leadership. This will complicate efforts to enact any serious legislation for the rest of the year.