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Postal Police Reform and GPO/WEP Repeal: Two Important NAPS Issues
By Bob Levi
NAPS Director of Legislative & Political Affairs
Just before Congress recessed for the summer, I had the privilege of joining Frank Albergo, president of the Postal Police Officers Association (PPOA), and Eric Freeman, the association’s secretary treasurer, for a series of legislative meetings on Capitol Hill in support of H.R. 3005, the Postal Police Reform Act. This important legislation is intended to protect postal personnel, postal property and the U.S. mail. The bill would reassert the law enforcement authority of uniformed members of the Postal Inspection Service, which was rescinded by the Postal Service in 2020.
Postal customers and employees are reading in newspapers, viewing on broadcast news and experiencing on streets the consequences of the Postal
Service’s ill-advised actions. Regrettably, the agency has sought to contract out to local police forces the authority to enforce federal law with respect to the mail and those who deliver it.
This strategy has failed miserably. Over the past three years, assaults against postal employees delivering mail increased by a frightening 231%; mail theft has increased by an alarming 161% over one year (2021-2022). So, it is with reserved optimism that I read about the Postal Service’s new-found religion in this matter.
Recently, the agency started a postal police recruitment drive in major metropolitan areas to augment its 350-member force. Not too long ago, postal police numbered over 1,000. It now appears the Postal Service has recognized it was unwise to delegate its law-enforcement obli-gations to local police.
Obviously, increasing the force is just one aspect of the essential equation to protect postal personnel, postal property and the mail. That is the reason the PPOA was on Capitol Hill last month.
NAPS and the PPOA visited with a number of key members of Congress, including Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), the subcom-mittee’s ranking Democrat who is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3005. In addition, earlier in the month, NAPS Executive Vice President Chuck Mulidore and I visited with the full committee chairman, Rep. James Comer (R-KY), and a number of committee members to discuss the importance of the legisla-tion.
Finally, NAPS Northeast Region Vice President Tommy Roma spearheaded an early August meeting between full committee member Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY) and members of Postal Police Supervisors Branch 51, Brooklyn Branch 68 and New York City Branch 100, where the bill was discussed. Active and retired postal supervisors, managers and postmasters easily can join the NAPS campaign to re-empower postal police to protect postal employees, postal assets and the mail by going to the NAPS Legislative Action Center on the NAPS website and clicking on the box designated H.R. 3005.
Another issue on NAPS’ list of priorities has gained some momentum over the past month—proposed repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The two provisions adversely affect the Social Security benefits of those who worked in positions where Social Security taxes were not withheld from their salaries.
For postal retirees, this means those who participated in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Retirees who participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are not impacted by the GPO or WEP because they are covered under the Social Security system.
Different bills seeking to repeal the GPO and WEP have been languishing in Congress for almost 40 years. H.R. 82, the Social Security Fairness Act, is the most recent iteration of repeal. The measure, which was introduced by Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), attracted 288 co-sponsors before Congress recessed for the summer.
Despite the support of almost two-thirds of the House, the measure still faces stiff headwinds. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) does not support the measure, in part because of the price tag. About a year ago, the Congressional Budget Office projected enacting repeal would cost the Social Security Trust Fund about $182.8 billion over the next decade.
Despite Smith’s objection, it is quite possible H.R. 82 could come to a House floor vote before the end of the year as the result of the overwhelming number of co-sponsors. Once the bill has 290 co-sponsors, Graves would be able to file a petition for H.R. 82 to be placed on the “House Consent Calendar” should the Ways & Means Committee not report the bill to the House floor.
In order to be placed on the Consensus Calendar, a House bill measure must not have been reported by its committee of primary jurisdiction, have accumulated at least 290 co-sponsors, have been subject to a motion to place the measure on the Consensus Calendar filed by the measure’s sponsor and have main-tained at least 290 co-sponsors for a cumulative total of 25 legislative days following the filing of the motion.
In mid-July, another bill repealing the GPO and WEP was introduced—H.R. 4583, the Social Security 2100 Act—introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-CT). This measure would repeal the GPO/WEP, as well as make a series of changes to the Social Security program. Included is changing the way in which cost-of-living adjustments are calculated by basing the adjustment on retiree spending habits, raising the earnings limit subject to the Social Security payroll tax from $167,200 to over $400,000 and increasing benefits for low-income earners. Before the summer recess, H.R. 4583 attracted 176 co-sponsors—all Democrats.
In September 2022, the GPO/WEP repeal bill was placed on the calendar. Subsequent to inclusion on the calendar, the Ways & Means Committee reported the bill, but without a recommendation to pass it. The House adjourned without voting on the bill. NAPS members should visit the Legislative Action Center on the NAPS website and click on the box signifying H.R. 82 to register support for GPO/WEP repeal legislation.