News & information

NALC Legislative Update: Sept. 12, 2014

Welcome back, Congress. Now hurry up and go!

This week, both the House of Representatives and the Senate returned to Washington from their August recess with a laser-like focus on funding the government beyond Sept. 30, which is the end of the 2014 fiscal year and when the current continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government expires.

Eager to leave Washington again to hit the campaign trail ahead of the Nov. 4 midterm elections, your representatives are left with very little time to reach consensus on a long-term funding solution. The expected action at this point is to pass a short-term extension of the CR lasting until Dec. 11, giving Congress more time to argue about funding, delaying the hard decisions on long-term funding until the lame-duck session after midterms, and enabling Congress to avoid a government shutdown.

Following President Obama’s speech this week, Congress also is now considering using the CR to give the U.S. military the authority to train and equip Syrian rebels in their fight against the Islamic State, as the president proposed. With that request and its consideration by Congress pending, it remains unclear as to when the House and Senate will recess again. For now, it appears that Congress could remain in Washington until the week of Sept. 22.

In other related news…

The proposal to close and consolidate 82 mail-processing facilities in 37 states continues to attract the ire of Congress. During the August recess, 50 senators sent a letter to Senate appropriators denouncing the plan. Last week, in a major move, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) added his signature to the letter, which asks appropriators to impose a one-year moratorium on closures and consolidations to give Congress time to enact meaningful postal reform legislation.

In the House, a virtually identical letter was written by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Ron Kind (D-WI); it ended up garnering 160 signatures from Republican and Democratic House members alike.

Last week, Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and ranking member Tom Coburn (R-OK) sent their own joint letter to Senate appropriators not just to oppose the moratorium but also, once again, to try to breathe life into their own postal bill (S. 1486), which is deservedly failing to gain the support it needs to move any further in the legislative process.

To help prevent service cuts, the four postal unions—along with the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, which represents a broad cross-section of the mailing community—sent a letter to Senate appropriators to emphasize that both business leaders and labor unions are opposed to S. 1486 and that an alternative approach that maintains service standards and preserves services and jobs is possible.

While the requested moratorium language on closings and consolidations is not being considered as part of a short-term CR, discussions on that subject will continue as Congress discusses a long-term CR, which is expected to be approved during the lame-duck session in December. As talks about postal reform continue with Congress and among the business and labor communities, we will keep you posted.

Door delivery resolution

As a reminder, please continue to urge your House member to sign on as a co-sponsor to H. Res. 711, if he or she has not already signed on. The latest list of co-sponsors can be found here. The mere fact that a majority of the House supports the six-day resolution (H. Res. 30) has really strengthened our defense and has helped us fend off attacks on Saturday mail delivery service. We need to make sure the same holds true for congressional support of door-to-door delivery.