What's the 411 on Capitol Hill?

March 16, 2023

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With the 118th Congress underway, there is already much talk throughout the country on the debt ceiling, a legislative limit on the amount of debt that can be incurred by the United States Treasury Department. The Treasury Department has already undertaken extraordinary measures to keep the government from defaulting on its existing debt. Raising the debt ceiling, an action that must be approved by both Congress and the president, merely allows the U.S. Government to pay the bills that have already come due.

While it is likely the debt ceiling will be raised, the question becomes how will it be accomplished? Some Republicans propose deep spending cuts in exchange for raising the limit, while many Democrats want a clean bill without amendments. The clock is ticking on this since Treasury Secretary Yellen believes the extraordinary measures will only last until June.

No postal worker or federal retiree will see a gap or reduction in pension payments or healthcare coverage while the Treasury Department utilizes these extraordinary measures to avoid a default. For more information on the impact of the debt limit, please visit: apwu.org/ news/debt-ceiling.

New Year, New Bills

With the start of every new Congress, members must reintroduce any bill that did not pass in the last Congress if they want it to be considered, in addition to any new bills they create. The Social Security Fairness Act was one of the first bills to be introduced. The bill has over 100 cosponsors to date and would remove the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Repealing GPO and WEP would restore Social Security benefits to millions of seniors. Postal employees covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) are just some of many employees unfairly penalized for their prior employment due to 1980s Social Security amendments. These retirees have paid into the system and therefore should receive their full Social Security benefits.

H.R. 82, The Social Security Fairness Act of 2023 was introduced on Jan. 9 to repeal GPO and WEP. This bill is bipartisan, with close to 35 percent of the cosponsors being Republicans. We ask every APWU member to call the Legislative Hotline at 1-844-402-1001 and urge their House representative to cosponsor H.R. 82, The Social Security Fairness Act of 2023!

Congress is preparing to reintroduce many other bills that are vital to our members. One such piece of legislation is The Shipping Equity Act, that, if enacted, would allow USPS to ship beer, alcohol, and wine. Due to regulations dating back to the Prohibition era over a century ago, the Postal Service cannot ship these products. Not only does this take away a valuable stream of revenue, it does not let USPS fairly compete with its rivals, who are not bound by these outdated regulations.

Another bill we are working to have reintroduced is The Federal Retirement Fairness Act. Temporary employees, namely Postal Support Employees (PSEs), currently cannot start contributing to their retirement savings until they become career employees. This results in delayed retirement and unequal access to retirement benefits among postal workers. If signed into law, this legislation would allow temporary employees to “buy back” time toward their retirement by making a contribution equal to what would have been added during their time as a PSE.

APWU will continue to fight for the legislation that matters most to you and your families. A more comprehensive list of our legislative priorities can be found on our webpage at: apwu.org/legislative-priorities

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