During the latter part of this week, the House of Representatives will vote on a budget bill (H.Con.Res. 71) that would, in part, require the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to slash postal and federal benefits by at least $32 billion over the next decade. In addition, the budget bill would move the Postal Service on-budget and recommends enactment of Postal reform legislation like H.R. 756, the Postal Reform Act of 2017. Meanwhile, the Senate Budget Committee will be considering a yet-to-be numbered budget bill that does not include any of these provisions.
The House proposed cuts are in the form of “reconciliation instructions” to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and targets federal and postal retirement and health benefits. Although H.Con.Res. 71 does not identify the specific cuts, the only programs within the jurisdiction of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee that would yield such cuts are retirement and health benefits. Consequently, increased retirement and FEHBP contributions, reduced retirement COLAs and benefits are all real possibilities.
In addition, H.Con.Res. 71 calls for the reversal of a provision included in the Omnibus Reconciliation Act 0f 1989 that took the Postal Service off-budget. The existing statute means that postal revenue and expenses have not been part of the federal budget, and ensures that postal appropriations are not subject to automatic budget sequestration. The Postal Service’s only appropriation the year was $35 million, which reimbursed to the agency for overseas voting, nonprofit discounts and mail for the blind. Placing the USPS on-budget jeopardizes the nominal appropriation and could lead to greater congressional entanglement in postal policies.
Early this week, the FAIR Coalition – the association representing postal and federal employee and retiree groups – will be sending a letter asking members of the House to oppose any budget bill that contains “reconciliation instructions” to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and to convey their opposition to the House leadership. It is also crucial that UPMA members communicate UPMA’s strong opposition of the “reconciliation instructions” to their members of Congress. The U.S. Capitol switchboard number is 202-224-3121.