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Working to Help All EAS Employees
By Bob Levi
Director of Legislative & Political Affairs
In 2019, the dual challenges facing legislative advocates for virtually any issue coming before Congress will be the relative youth of the 116th Congress and the cascading number of investigations relating to the current administration. These factors will influence the legislative progress on NAPS’ legislative priorities.
For this reason, the NAPS Legislative Training Seminar (LTS) provided a fertile ground to successfully draw attention to our postal priorities and cultivated political opportunities to promote our agenda throughout the year.
As stated in the March Postal Supervisor, about 100 new members of Congress were seated in January. The March issue identified the new representatives and senators who serve on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Generally, these new members of Congress are unfamiliar with the complexities of postal operations and the serious financial burdens that hamper the Postal Service’s ability to provide America the essential and constitutionally mandated public service. As former House postal subcommittee chair John McHugh (R-NY) once remarked: “Before embracing postal issues, all I knew was that mail was deposited in a far-off collection box and miraculously appeared in my home mailbox.”
In part, it’s our job to help members of Congress appreciate the efficient means that convey mail from collection point to destination point. As well as how lawmakers’ failure to enact a constructive and meaningful postal bill will jeopardize this nation’s affordable, universal and accessible mail service.
As this column went to press, the chairs of the congressional postal committees tentatively had scheduled postal oversight hearings. It is expected that the Senate committee, chaired by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), will have conducted a long-awaited hearing on last year’s report by the President’s Task Force on the U.S. Postal System.
In addition, the House committee chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) likely will have held an oversight hearing on the financial condition of the Postal Service. These extremely important hearings provided the first opportunity for the five new members of the Senate committee and the 17 new members (including 10 freshmen) of the House committee to formally familiarize themselves with postal operations and the fiscal crisis confronting the agency.
Furthermore, the large number of new rank-and-file members of Congress make it even more critical that all NAPS members who seek to protect the integrity of the nation’s postal system educate their representatives and senators of the important economic and social imprint the Postal Service has on the nation and on the constituents represented by their elected officials. The March LTS provided the opportunity.
In addition to having jurisdiction over postal issues and postal employee retirement and health benefits, the House Oversight and Reform Committee has been conducting explosive hearings regarding certain individuals serving and who served in the administration or are presently serving in the Trump organization. These hearings and investigations compete for committee time with issues that directly impact EAS employees.
With these ongoing investigations into the president, his subordinates, his family and his financial interests, it should come as no surprise that bipartisanship will suffer. Inasmuch as viable postal reform legislation relies on such bipartisanship, it is crucial that legislative movement on such a bill occur earlier, rather than later, this year. Tempers will rise as the year goes on.
Your NAPS Legislative Team, which includes Executive Vice President Ivan D. Butts, Legal and Legislative Counsel Bruce Moyer and myself, has been implementing a number of novel approaches to enhance the ability of NAPS members to succeed on the legislative and political battlefield. These new strategies are in addition to—they do not replace—time-tested materials and activities to ensure EAS employees are effective in advancing the NAPS agenda in meetings with elected postal policymakers.
Moreover, NAPS continues to promote its highly acclaimed Supervisors’ Political Action Committee—SPAC—which helps elect promising pro-postal congressional candidates and re-elect proven postal allies. Our SPAC pin recognition program, which includes the “Drive for 5” initiative that identifies NAPS members who use payroll deductions or annuity withholdings, is well underway.
New programs NAPS has unveiled include a special preparatory webinar for LTS attendees. Before LTS, Bruce and I developed and sent, via our NAPS Legislative Alert, a 30-minute webinar to assist LTS attendees in engaging with members of Congress during the 2019 LTS. This webinar benefited first-timers, in addition to serving as a refresher for LTS veterans.
Also, since October, NAPS has recorded over 20 episodes of NAPS’ much-heralded legislative podcast, NAPS Chat. These podcasts can be heard on your computer or mobile device. In addition to providing an opportunity for NAPS President Brian Wagner and Executive Vice President Ivan D. Butts to address legislative and political issues, NAPS Chat hosted a number of congressional guests, as well as Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Robert Taub.
Most importantly, though, we hosted a number of NAPS members who have a deep appreciation of how Congress and the White House impact the Postal Service and the earned benefits that active and retired postal employees enjoy. So, at your convenience, please tune into NAPS Chat. Past episodes are posted on the NAPS website.
Your Legislative Team truly hopes we are equipping EAS employees with the essential tools to be effective citizen advocates on behalf of the Postal Service and in protecting the benefits that such employees have earned. So, let’s work together to help all EAS employees.