From the Federal Times:
Tucked in the 115th Congress’s House Rules package is a quintessential throwback measure that has unions leery of the future of federal employee jobs and salaries.
The Holman Rule is a 140-year-old measure that allows Congress to “retrench” agency spending by allowing amendments to appropriations bills affecting everything from federal employee salaries paid from the Treasury Department to the number of employees in an office.
The House Rules package was approved on Jan. 5, including the 19th-century appropriations measure.
The Holman Rule was first introduced in 1876 and modified in 1911, but Congress used it sparingly in the 1930s to reduce the numbers of federal employees in specific agencies when it was deemed germane to proposed legislation.
The rule allows congressmen to apply a retrenchment amendment to any appropriation bill without seeking insight from the agencies they propose to cut from, sending an alarm through federal unions whose members could be affected.
While US Postal Service employees are paid from USPS revenues, rather than by the taxpayer, those revenues are expressly appropriated to the USPS by the 2006 PAEA law- so that appropriation can be cancelled or modified by another Act of Congress. While Republicans have always been champions of the sanctity of contracts, that reverence has not usually extended to collective bargaining agreements with workers.