From the eNAPUS Legislative and Political Bulletin:
Earlier this week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved H.R. 3813, legislation that would slash postal and federal retirement benefits by $44 billion over the next decade. The provisions included in the Committee-approved bill were hastily inserted in H.R. 7, a highway construction bill, and will be used to offset a funding shortfall in the transportation bill. The House may bring H.R.7, with the federal retirement cuts, up for a floor vote late next week. In addition, postal reform legislation slips until after the Presidents’ Day Recess, and the Postal Inspector General concludes that the USPS retiree healthcare liability could be fully funded in 21 years, without any additional pre-funding payments.
Over the past couple of weeks, consideration of S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Act , has slipped behind other Senate legislative priorities. On the immediate horizon, a 10-month extension of the Social Security pay-roll tax holiday will supplant S. 1789 in the legislative pecking order.
Complicating prompt consideration of the Lieberman-Collins-Carper-Brown bill are concerns being raised within the Senate Democratic Caucus over a limited number of controversial provisions in the bill (e.g., changes to collective-bargaining and the federal workers’ compensation program). In addition, there is pressure to add provisions to the bill to strengthen Postal Regulatory Commission involvement in facility closure and consolidation decision-making, and deny the USPS the opportunity to reduce delivery service standards.
In addition, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would cost about $6.3 billion, and caused pause on the GOP side of the aisle.
NAPUS strongly believes that the CBO estimate is disingenuous, since none of the identified funds are the taxpayers’, and it results from re-funding the USPS FERS surplus and re-amortizing the pre-funding of future retiree FEHBP liabilities. Moreover, the Office of Personnel Management has calculated that the USPS has overfunded FERS and CSRS by $13.1 billion. (The OPM determination is independent of the projected $55-75 billion USPS overpayment into the CSRS.)
Finally, the USPS circulated in the Senate a memorandum, raising questions about its commitment to pursing passable postal relief legislation this year. USPS-promoted provisions excluded from the Governmental Affairs-approved bill or USPS-resisted items Committee, or amendments that may prevail on the Senate floor have tainted the USPS’ 2012 legislative strategy.
However, the facts are uncontested. The USPS will be unable to make $11.1 of pre-funding payments in in the current fiscal year — about ½ on August 1 and remainder on September 30. The USPS needs relief from these unjustified payments. In addition, it needs more legislative latitude and incentives to grow its revenue; not simply contract its market reach into irrelevancy, pursuing a kamikaze mission of retail inaccessibility and service cuts.
A potential Senate floor vote on which NAPUS will be focusing will be a motion to “waive a point of order” against the bill for violating a Senate budget rule. We expect that an anti-postal Senator will raise such a point of order against the bill. NAPUS will push for a waiver, because congressional budget rules are inherently unfair to the USPS and prejudicial to implementing postal relief.
In the meantime, NAPUS will continue to work with Senate allies to fine-tune S. 1789, so that the measure will garner the requisite votes for passage.
eNAPUS Legislative and Political Bulletin
Open Season on the Federal Public Service?
Retiree Costs Fully Funded in 21 years