eNAPUS: Postal, Federal Employees and Retirees Dodge Budget Bullet

Postal-Federal Employees and Retirees Dodge the Budget BulletPostmasters, Postal Workers, Retirees and the Federal Community Dodge Budget Bullet

May 8, 2015 Postmasters may have evaded an early 2015 attack on federal health and retirement programs. Our work to educate Members of Congress during the Leadership Conference and at subsequent political events – particularly regard member of the Senate – paid a meaningful dividend.

On Tuesday, May 5, the Senate passed the “conference agreement” for the fiscal year 2016 Congressional Budget Resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, by a narrow 51-48 majority. The House passed the same legislation on April 20, with a 226-197 majority. Although the resolution assumes approximately $193 billion in ten-year cuts to programs that may impact the postal and federal community, it does not mandate that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee or the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee take specific legislative actions to implement those cuts. In addition, the budget resolution does not have the force of law, since it does not go to the President for his signature.

As you may recall, in late March, the House of Representatives approved its version of a congressional budget, House Concurrent Resolution 27, that would have a devastating impact on federal and postal employees and retirees, including NAPUS members. The total hit to the community would have been about $300 billion. NAPUS strongly opposed the measure and co-signed a letter to Congress with 28 allied employee and retiree groups, outlining our objections. The House-passed version of the resolution targeted federal pension contributions, Thrift Savings Plan earnings, Federal Employee Health Program premiums and U.S. Postal Service operations. (For specifics, see April-May Postmasters 2015 Gazette.) Subsequently, the House-Senate Conference Committee on the budget negotiated a compromise bill that stripped the specific policy recommendations from the House budget resolution, meaning that the policies will not be included in the “budget reconciliation process.”

NAPUS Legislative, PAC Chairs, and the NAPUS Executive Board were provided a detailed primer on the dangers of budget reconciliation. In sum, the congressional committees that have jurisdiction over postal and federal issues would have been instructed to reconcile current law with the budget resolution and implement the toxic anti-Postmaster policies. Senate rules provide for expedited consideration of the entire budget package, which would have included those policies. The accelerated consideration would have limited Senate debate and required only a “simple majority” (i.e., 51 votes) to pass.

Inasmuch as our House and Senate committees were not given reconciliation instructions by the budget resolution, they would need to pass those policies under “regular order” in the Senate if it were to be decided to take up any of the aforementioned cuts. This means that any such legislation would need to be introduced as a free-standing bill, could be subject to a Senate filibuster and would likely require a 60-vote Senate supermajority to pass.

Nevertheless, there are still numerous opportunities for a budget-driven Congress to seek benefit Postmaster cuts on a fast-track basis. For example, Congress may feel the need to offset the elimination of budget sequestration with cuts to Postmaster benefits, or use the debate over raising the national debt limit to get at postal and federal employee benefits. Consequently, the NAPUS Government Relations Department will be carefully monitoring the entire budget process and beyond.

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2 thoughts on “eNAPUS: Postal, Federal Employees and Retirees Dodge Budget Bullet

  1. This is good news, but the close vote shows how tenuous the protection we get from Congress is. Why almost half the Senate thinks it’s okay to put the screws to federal workers is clear: we are among the last workers with reasonably effective unions.
    The Republicans and their owners, big business and horrible bastards like the Koch brothers have always hated organized labor and their idea of a business utopia is a full reversion back to the industrial era of the late 1800’s, right before people had finally had enough of the brutality and economic slavery of factory owners like steel mills who paid slave wages, used child labor, had 12 hour work days with only an hour or two off on Sunday to attend church, horrifying and deadly working conditions and practically owned towns and cities where their factories or coal mines were located.
    Because the crafty and corrupt can always rely on stupidity, cliches, fears and hate, we’ve seen dozens of states mainly in GOP rich parts of the country like the south and plains adopt right to work laws and demonize unions successfully. The lack of overall education in this region has paid handsome dividends for the GOP and big business as far too many workers respond to the fear mongering and blatant misinformation they get from FOX News, talk radio and other media shills. They are their own worst enemies, supporting the very people who want to destroy them, but what’s really bad is the fact that it makes life very difficult for all of us.
    Scott Walker refers to union workers as “thugs”, right wing media present us as lousy, slow and featherbedding workers, and we get blamed for putting businesses out of business. I’ve seen enough scabs and have worked in non-union places before becoming a letter carrier to know that lousy lazy workers are everywhere, and while unions do provide a certain amount of protection, it evens itself out by scabs who work for the USPS and get all the benefits the unions fought for free.
    Congress will only give us attention and the support we need if we remain vigilant. Thanks to the Koch brothers and asswipes like Governor Walker, however, the unions are getting bolder and fighting back. Maybe it’s the wake up call we need.

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