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NAPS Welcomes Members of the 116th Congress
By Bob Levi
Director of Legislative & Political Affairs
Before the Jan. 3 start of the 116th Congress, the Senate took care of some unfinished business from the 115th Congress. On the evening of Jan. 2, literally during the waning minutes of the previous Congress, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Michael Kubayanda to the sole Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) vacancy, bringing the total number of commissioners to five.
Kubayanda served on the legislative staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during the time that Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman was staff director of the committee. He also served in the Office of the Postal Inspector General when Postal Board of Governor’s member David Williams was inspector general. Kubayanda brings a wealth of postal experience with him to the PRC. Within hours of his confirmation, NAPS conveyed congratulations to the new commissioner.
The Senate, however, failed to confirm three presidential nominees to the USPS Board of Governors: Ron Bloom, Ramon Martinez and Calvin Tucker. Of the three, only Tucker had a confirmation hearing, but his nomination was not forwarded to the full Senate. In addition, the committee failed to conduct a confirmation hearing for either Bloom or Martinez; their nominations do not convey to the new Congress. Currently, there are seven vacancies on the Board of Governors—all who would need to be nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate.
On the first day of the 116th Congress, the Senate assigned members to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. As expected, the committee will continue to be chaired by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI); the new ranking Democrat is Gary Peters (D-MI). Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Ron Paul (R-KY), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) are returning members.
Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rick Scott (R-FL), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Jackie Rosen (D-NV) are the committee’s new members; more than one-third are freshmen. Romney was a former GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor; Scott was the former Florida governor; Hawley was the former Missouri attorney general; and Sinema and Rosen are former members of the House of Representatives.
Inasmuch as the Democratic Party now controls a majority of the House seats, the reorganization is a bit slower than the Senate where the legislative body remained in Republican hands. One of the key leaders of House Democrats is Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). During his entire tenure as a member of the House, within its committee and leadership structure, he has been the most outspoken, well-positioned and effective advocate on behalf of active and retired postal/federal employees.
Although the House leadership has yet to assign members to the committee with jurisdiction over postal and federal employee issues, the name of the panel has changed. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been renamed the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. As expected, the new chairman is Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD); the ranking Republican is Jim Jordan (R-OH).
Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) will chair the subcommittee with legislative jurisdiction over the Postal Service and federal benefit issues. Although Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the leading GOP proponent of postal reform in the 115th Congress, is not the ranking GOP member, he will play a crucial committee role in crafting Republican legislative activities on the committee. In addition, he has the “ear of the President.”
It is important to note that bills introduced in the previous Congress do not convey to the new Congress; as a result, new postal legislation will need to be introduced. It is our hope that bipartisan postal legislation can be one of the first items undertaken by the committee.
On the first day of the new Congress, Executive Vice President Ivan D. Butts and I had the privilege to travel to Capitol Hill and congratulate new and re-elected members. We spoke to them about how they will play a pivotal role in ensuring the continued vitality of a universal and affordable governmental postal system. In addition, we explained the essential role that postal supervisors play in guaranteeing the quality mail service they expect and deserve and how EAS employees should be treated fairly.
NAPS members can hear some of the comments offered by members of Congress on the Jan. 4 and 11 editions of NAPS Chat, the NAPS weekly podcast. On Jan. 4, we hosted Hoyer, Cummings, Connolly, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and fresh-man Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-TX).
On the Jan. 11 edition, you can hear comments from Oversight and Reform Committee member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Anne Kirk-patrick (D-AZ). Although a member of the freshman class, Kirkpatrick previously represented Arizona’s 1st District from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2013 to 2017. She now represents Arizona’s 2nd District. (NAPS Chat can be accessed on the NAPS website under the “Legislative Center” tab.)
Finally, during our Jan. 3 Hill visits, Ivan and I informed members of Congress and their staff members of the upcoming 2019 NAPS Legislative Training Seminar, at which time they can expect visits from their “postal constituents” and that discussions will revolve around NAPS’ legislative priorities for 2019.