Rep. Issa Pushing New Postal Bill to End Saturday Delivery

Image: Rep. Issa Pushing New Postal Bill to End Saturday Delivery

Monday, 21 Apr 2014 08:12 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is facing a battle in Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, including an end to Saturday delivery.

The agency has lost billions of dollars in the past decade due to the impact of the Internet, and it’s even been forced to default on three $5.5 billion payments into a healthcare fund for future retirees, according to The Washington Post.

Issa, whose tenure as committee chairman is winding down due to term limits, is pushing for sweeping changes to the USPS, and he has the support of his panel’s Senate counterpart, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Sen. Thomas Carper, a Delaware Democrat.

The two committees have introduced a series of measures in recent months, which would have allowed the postal service to slash costs and create new products making it more competitive, while also restructuring its debt to make the payments for future retirees.

But the proposals to finally end the three-year effort to stabilize the postal service were knocked back. The Post cited sources saying that a Democrat-led Senate and the Republican-led House are unlikely to pass a USPS bill before the midterm elections in November.

But Issa, eager to pass legislation before his term expires later this year, recently invited officials from the Office of Management and Budget to talk to his committee about plans for the postal service in the Obama administration’s 2015 fiscal budget.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee agreed with the administration’s plans that Saturday letter delivery should be eliminated and curbside delivery should be phased out. They also both think that there should be no legal impediment to product development, and that the workforce should be cut through attrition rather than layoffs.

The Post reported that the one sticking point was whether a rate increase introduced in January should be made permanent. The OMB is pushing for the hike to be made permanent, while Republicans are against it.

Issa is now expected to introduce a bipartisan bill, possibly as early as next week, with measures some committee members found in common with the White House. He said it was "good starting point" and hoped the administration "would broadly push all parties to embrace" it.

But such a bill would likely face opposition from some House Democrats, who are fierce union supporters and are afraid that no Saturday delivery and a reduction of curbside delivery would cost many postal workers their jobs, according to the Post.

Last week, Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly revealed he has more than 200 co-sponsors of a rival postal bill that would keep Saturday letter delivery.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said he supports comprehensive postal reform, but hoped that Congress would "focus on measures we can all agree on rather than measures that drive us apart."

Postal unions plan to fight any programs that could possibly cut jobs while noting that the agency’s finances recently have shown an uptick.

"Both bills are terrible bills," Sally Davidow, a spokeswoman for the American Postal Workers Union, told the Post. "We don’t want either of them to go forward."

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