e-Team Report, Jan. 4, 2013

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Out With The 112th Congress

As the 112th Congress came to a close yesterday, they did so without passing a postal reform bill. Both S.1789 and H.R. 1351, postal reform bills from the 112th Congress, died without becoming law despite bipartisan support. As such, it falls to the next Congress to make the necessary corrections to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which requires the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees 75 years into the future and has driven the Postal Service to the edge of insolvency.

In the final days of the 112th Congress, members were able to pass a bill to address provisions of the fiscal cliff. One of the provisions of the fiscal cliff bill, which was signed into law by President Obama, preserved a tax cut for the most Americans while it raised taxes on households making more than $450,000 annually. There was much uncertainty about the fate of the bill until it passed both the House and Senate, given the fierce opposition from the right over raising taxes on America’s highest earners.

“Many politicians were willing to allow taxes to go up for 98 percent of America’s citizens, in order to protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires,”Guffey said. “I hope union members will take note of who they were and punish them in 2014.”

To read more about postal reform in the last few days of the 112th Congress, please click here.

In With The 113th Congress

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairmen of the House and Senate committees with postal jurisdiction, issued a joint statement today expressing their desire to see postal reform across the finish line in the new Congress. Their statement read in part: “Although the 112th Congress did not come to a consensus around a package of reforms that can update the Postal Service's network and business model to reflect the reality that it faces today, we remain committed to working with our colleagues in both the House and the Senate to reform the Postal Service so it can survive and thrive in the 21st century.”

On previous postal legislation, the stances of these two men have differed greatly. Issa’s H.R. 2309 would require the USPS to make $3 billion worth of cuts in post offices and mail processing facilities within two years, end the ability of postal unions to bargain for layoff protections, and would empower an appointed board to reject negotiated labor contracts at its discretion. Carper, an author of the bipartisan S.1789, has supported reforms to the burdensome pre-fund mandate and early out incentives for postal employees.

Despite the stark contrast in the postal legislation the two men have previously drafted, they now write that, “we made significant progress in narrowing our differences in recent months, and our commitment to restoring this American institution to long-term solvency is unwavering.”

As to what legislation results from their negotiations, which continued throughout the lame duck session of Congress, APWU Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid says, “We will continue to meet with members of Congress and their staffs and fight for the interests of postal employees as new bills are being drafted.”

To read more on the joint statement on the future of postal legislation by the chairmen, please click here.

New Congress, New Subcommittee Chair

In his capacity as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa named Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census, replacing Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL). Farenthold is a conservative Republican who belongs to the Tea Party Caucus. He was first been elected to the House in the 2010 midterm elections by 799 votes. After redistricting, he secured his reelection in 2012 by nearly 40,000 votes.

To get a deeper look into the new postal subcommittee chairman, please click here.

Speaker Vote

Despite last-minute opposition from several conservative defectors, John Boehner (R-OH) was elected to another term as Speaker of the House yesterday. When the votes were tallied yesterday afternoon, he had earned two more than the 218 votes required to secure his reelection as speaker.

To read more about the speaker vote and the attempted conservative rebellion, please click here.

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