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House/Senate Committees Finalize Their Rosters
By Bob Levi
Director of Legislative & Political Affairs
The first month of the new Congress was dominated by the shutdown of one-quarter of the federal government, resulting from the failure of the President and the House to reach an agreement on a wall along the United States-Mexico border. While the suspension of government functions did not directly impact the Postal Service or its employees, it did impede the operation of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), including the installation of newly confirmed Commissioner Michael Kubayanda.
The shutdown of the PRC also interfered with the commission’s 10-year review of the postal rate-setting system and implementation of the yet-be-issued ruling. In addition, the shutdown inhibited the PRC’s review of pending negotiated service agreements with postal customers and, therefore, may have temporarily undermined prospective Postal Service contracts.
During the lapse in PRC operations, I was privileged to conduct episode 13 of “NAPS Chat” with Chairman Robert Taub at the church-mouse-quiet PRC Headquarters. Among the issues we discussed were the impact the government closure had on postal operations and the emerging discussion over the Postal Service’s universal service obligation.
Early in the 116th Congress, a series of bills was introduced that are of interest to EAS employees. First, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), the new chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Rep. David McKinley (R-VA) introduced H.R. 597, the Postal Employee Appeal Rights Amendments Act. The bill is identical to legislation introduced last Congress by Connolly and included in postal reform legislation approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
H.R. 597 would clarify current law to assure that all USPS EAS employees may appeal adverse personnel actions to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. Also, a series of non-binding resolutions was introduced that confirm House opposition to certain Postal Service cuts. H. Res. 23, introduced by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), reinforces House support for continued door delivery of mail.
H. Res. 33, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), declares House opposition to postal privatization. And H. Res. 54, introduced by Connolly, affirms House support for six-day mail delivery. Taken together, strong co-sponsorship of these resolutions would establish solid House disapproval of many of the recommendations proposed by the President’s Task Force on the U.S. Postal System and in the White House’s government reorganization plan.
Also in late January, the House and Senate finalized committee rosters, which include members of the two legislative bodies that will sit on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. What is most striking is the large number of new members on both committees.
On the House committee, 40 percent of the members are new to the committee, including 10 freshmen; 36 percent of the Senate panel are first-termers. The House committee freshmen are Harley Rouda (D-CA), Katie Hill (D-CA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Chip Roy (R-TX), Carol Miller (R-WV), Mark Green (R-TN), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Greg Steube (R-FL).
In addition, the following veteran House members have been newly assigned to Oversight and Reform: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Rohit Khanna (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Michael Cloud (R-TX), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Clay Higgins (R-LA) and Ralph Norman (R-SC). Senate committee freshmen include Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rick Scott (R-FL), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Jackie Rosen (D-NV). Committee dynamics create the possibility of a learning curve on postal issues that could delay prompt action on much-needed postal relief legislation.
Also complicating prompt consideration of postal legislation could be the four-month-old President’s task force report and the reticence of formerly postal reform-supportive Republican members of Congress to endorse a postal measure not embraced by the President. Although such a measure has yet to be introduced, NAPS members must continue to urge their representatives and senators to support meaningful and constructive postal legislation that contains the following key elements: Significant reduction in the unfair retiree health liability, accurate and sustainable postage rates, protection of the universal service obligation and authorization for innovative products and services. For this reason, this month’s Legislative Training Seminar takes on added importance.
Finally, the Office of Management and Budget alerted Congress that, due to the government shutdown, the administration has delayed the submission of the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget until March 11. We expect the budget will include many of the same ill-advised, anti-postal-employee proposals that were included in last year’s budget.
Those recommendations included increasing employee retirement contributions, changing the formula under which annuities are calculated and eliminating the Federal Employees Retirement System. We also will be watchful of attempts to include any of the proposals of the President’s government reform plan or postal task force recommendations in the budget.
However, unlike in the prior two years, the House now has a Democratic majority with Rep. John Yarmouth (D-KY) as chairman of the House Budget Committee. Consequently, it is highly doubtful that the 2019 House Budget Resolution will include provisions harmful to active or retired NAPS members.
Congressional Members Who Will Influence Postal Reform
#new committee member
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
Elijah Cummings, Maryland, chairman Carolyn Maloney, New York
Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia Lacy Clay, Missouri
Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts
Jim Cooper, Tennessee
Gerry Connolly, Virginia
Raja Krishnamoorthi, Illinois
Jamie Raskin, Maryland
*Harley Rouda, California
*Katie Hill, California, vice chair
#Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida
#John Sarbanes, Maryland
Peter Welch, Vermont
Jackie Speier, California
Robin Kelly, Illinois
Mark DeSaulnier, California
Brenda Lawrence, Michigan
Stacey Plaskett, U.S. Virgin Islands
#Ro Khanna, California
#Jimmy Gomez, California
*Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York
*Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts
*Rashida Tlaib, Michigan
Jim Jordan, Ohio, ranking member
Justin Amash, Michigan
Paul Gosar, Arizona
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina
Thomas Massie, Kentucky
Mark Meadows, North Carolina
Jody Hice, Georgia
Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin
James Comer, Kentucky
#Michael Cloud, Texas
#Bob Gibbs, Ohio
#Clay Higgins, Louisiana
#Ralph Norman, South Carolina
*Chip Roy, Texas
*Carol Miller, West Virginia
*Mark E. Green, Tennessee
*Kelly Armstrong, North Dakota
*Greg Steube, Florida
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Ron Johnson, Wisconsin, chairman Rob Portman, Ohio
Rand Paul, Kentucky
James Lankford, Oklahoma
Mike Enzi, Wyoming
*Mitt Romney, Utah
*Rick Scott, Florida
*Josh Hawley, Missouri
Gary Peters, Michigan, ranking member
Tom Carper, Delaware
Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire
Kamala Harris, California
*Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona
*Jacky Rosen, Nevada
#new committee member