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Ready, Set, Go
By Bob Levi
Director of Legislative & Political Affairs
In his classic book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” Dr. Seuss wrote, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So, get on your way!”
Pursuing a legislative initiative is, at times, like scaling a mountain. You spy the tall peak in the distance, yet refuse to be discouraged by the challenge. NAPS has just embarked on this year’s legislative journey; part of this trek leads up the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Later this month, more than 500 NAPS members will partake in our annual Legislative Training Seminar. We have planned an intensive, comprehensive and, hopefully, entertaining legislative program.
One of the most consequential legislative activities that will take place later this year is resolving the controversy over the nation’s credit-worthiness. It is paramount that the integrity of our national economy hinges on the U.S. Treasury meeting its financial obligations.
I wrote about this controversy last month and what the far-right House Freedom Caucus may attempt to use as leverage to raise the debt limit. Interestingly, one of the early items identified by Republican members of the House Budget Committee was the funding signed into law last year for modernizing the Postal Service’s delivery fleet.
On Feb. 8, House Budget Committee Republicans issued a press release that proposed to “rescind $3 billion for new USPS electric vehicles.” NAPS will urge Congress to maintain the funding to upgrade the postal fleet, which improves vehicle efficiency, maintenance and safety.
Four legislative priorities remain from last year. NAPS legislative activists intend to redouble their efforts to promote bills to advance these NAPS priorities.
First and foremost, Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Mike Bost (R-IL) reintroduced legislation to establish a more equitable and expeditious process for EAS-level consultations over pay and benefits. The 2023 version of the Postal Supervisors and Managers Fairness Act, H.R. 594, would harmonize the outcome of the unanimous 2022 U.S. Court of Appeals decision in favor of NAPS with Title 39 of the U.S. Code as it applies to pay talks for postal supervisors, managers and postmasters.
In part, the federal court decision called out the Postal Service for its failure to comply with Title 39 with regard to EAS-level pay comparability and differentials. H.R. 594 would compel the Postal Service to comply with the conclusions and recommendations of an independent panel of experts designated by the Federal Conciliation and Mediation Service in making a final pay determination.
Second, Reps. Connolly and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) reintroduced legislation to provide virtually all EAS-level postal employees the right to appeal adverse personnel actions to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The 2023 version of the Postal Employee Appeal Rights Amendments Act, H.R. 595, would provide approximately 5,000 USPS Headquarters managers with MSPB appeal rights.
Third, we anticipate that Reps. Garbarino and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) each will reintroduce bills to clarify that USPS police officers have the authority to protect postal property, personnel and the U.S. mail beyond the parameters of a postal facility. USPS police cannot be treated simply as “security guards.” These law enforcement officers can and should play a vital role in protecting postal personnel and preventing and investigating postal crime.
Fourth, Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) reintroduced legislation to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision. The Social Security Fairness Act, H.R. 82, carries the same bill number as last year’s bill, which earned 305
Due to the overwhelming number of cosponsors, the House Committee on Ways and Means was forced to report the measure to the House floor this past fall. However, there was insufficient time to bring the bill up for a House vote or to send it to the Senate for consideration.
H.R. 82 would eliminate two sections of Social Security law that discriminate against many public-sector annuitants, including those who participate in the Civil Service Retirement System. As of Feb. 8, H.R. 82 had captured 139 cosponsors.
While these issues are familiar to us, they are new to the 118th Congress’ freshman class. These issues also may be new to returning members of Congress who were newly assigned to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability (formerly the Committee on Oversight and Reform).