URGENT LEGISLATIVE NEWS: ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
from Bob Levi, Director of Government Relations
Well folks, we got our work cut out for us over the next month. Over the past few years, Congress has considered legislation that could have brought some financial and operational relief, but hose bills have languished in committee. However, right now, we are faced with a real fight over the future of the Postal Service. It concerns whether, or not, postal services will continue to be government function; whether, or not, postal operations will be performed by governmental employees; whether, or not, universal mail service will continue to exist; whether, or not, rural America will be receive regular mail service, whether, or not, postage will continue to be affordable. Much to our alarm, on June 21, President Donald Trump proposed to PRIVATIZE the United States postal Service, radically changing the way in the Postal Service will operates, collect revenue and serve the American public. This privatization plan was revealed a full 50 days prior to the submission of the findings for a task force the President authorized. Talk about pressing your thumb down on the postal scale!
We must succeed in our battle against the President's privatization plan, or all postal - current, future, and retired employees will be harmed. Jobs will be lost, wages will be depressed and benefits will be cut. It is a scary time, to say the least. And FYI, in Europe, where there privatized mail services, the cost of mailing a .75-ounce letter within a country in Europe is around $1.00 and has risen on the average of 9.4% per year over the past 8 years. That should be a cause of concern for all Americans in of itself.
PRESIDENT SIGNS INTO LAW FY 2018 BUDGET BILL:
NO POSTAL OR BENEFIT HITS:
Posted by Bob Levi on 03/26/18 at www.unitedpma.org
On Friday, March 23, President Trump signed into law H.R. 1626, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. This legislation funds the government through the end of the current fiscal year.
Although the 2,149 page bill included a variety of substantive "policy riders," an attempt to attach postal reform legislation to it was abandoned. However, H.R. 1626, as enacted, includes a number of provisions that relate to the Postal Service. In addition to providing $58 million to reimburse the USPS for mail for the blind and overseas voting, H.R. 1626 provides $94 million for monitoring the illicit importation of opioids though USPS international air mail facilities. The appropriations bill also includes such perennial postal provisions as the prohibition against using appropriated funds to close or consolidate rural and small post offices, and the prohibition of reducing 6-day residential mail delivery.
The Postal Reform Act of 2018 Introduced in the Senate
Sen. Thomas Carper, D-DE, introduced S. 2629, The Postal Reform Act of 2018 on March 23, with the support of three co-sponsors: Sens. Jerry Moran, R-KS; Claire McCaskill, D-MO; and Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND.
The bill would require current USPS retirees to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to continue receiving their current health insurance coverage through the FEHB Program, ultimately raising their overall health insurance premiums an additional $1,600 or more per year, despite the fact that they previously declined this coverage.
The goal of this requirement is to decrease USPS health insurance costs by shifting primary responsibility for retiree health care costs from USPS to Medicare. This shift in responsibility would cost taxpayers $10.7 billion over 10 years.
NARFE opposes the bill because it unfairly burdens tens of thousands of postal retirees and their survivors by changing the bargain regarding their health benefits after retirement, removing choice with regard to their health care and setting a dangerous precedent for all federal employees and retirees. NARFE President Richard Thissen’s statement in response to the bill can be seen here.
While most bills must be considered by the relevant committee, Carper, the bill’s sponsor, has requested a Rule XIV waiver, which allows the bill to bypass the committee process and be placed on the calendar for consideration. This could prevent the type of thoughtful attention, thorough review and commonsense amendments that committee consideration allows. We encourage members to write and call their legislators and urge them to vote “no” on S. 2629 and H.R. 756. Members can access the Legislative Action Center for assistance in contacting their legislators regarding postal reform by clicking here.