The Postal Service’s announcement last Thursday regarding its modified, two-phase plan to consolidate its mail processing network, coupled with its May 9 POStPlan to keep rural post offices open (but with limited operating hours), is likely to move the House of Representatives closer to bringing postal legislation to the floor some time in June. Until now, House Republican leaders have been unable to find enough votes within their own party to assure passage of the controversial Issa-Ross postal legislation, H.R. 2309.
Closures of post offices and mail processing plants are radioactive issues for Washington lawmakers in an election year, with thousands of jobs and significant local interests in jeopardy. But the Postal Service’s recent announcements, significantly downsizing its original plans, have softened the breadth and negative political impact of closures. Far less facilities will be immediately closed than the Postal Service originally announced. Many lawmakers, particularly Republicans with rural districts, are breathing a sigh of relief that their post offices will remain open, albeit with reduced operating hours. Significant numbers of House Members and Senators are similarly relieved that mail processing plants in their districts and states are not among the 40 mail processing plants that will be closed between now and early next year, or the additional 89 to come next year, after the November election.
These events are likely to give Republican House leaders enough confidence to bring a modified version of the Issa-Ross postal legislation, H.R. 2309, to the floor next month. How much the Issa-Ross measure will be modified still remains uncertain. If the House acts and approves a postal measure next month, House and Senate negotiators potentially could iron out the differences between their bills over the summer, opening the way for Congressional approval of a final postal reform measure by early October, before the start of the election recess. A lot of very troubling questions yet remain, however.
The Issa-Ross bill and the Senate-approved measure are dramatically different in their fundamental views of the Postal Service itself and what is necessary to put the troubled enterprise back on its feet. Finding compromise could be especially difficult for House and Senate conferees, especially in the ramp-up to the November elections, when a failing government institution like the Postal Service could become a popular target for many Republicans.
In the meantime, the clock toward financial armageddon for the Postal Service continues to tick. Without Congressional intervention, the Postal Service will be unable to make the twin $5.5 billion retiree health prefunding payments for 2011 and 2012 that are due in early August and late September. Even worse, the Postal Service may run out of cash and find itself unable to meet its payroll by later this fall.
It is critical that the House of Representatives act immediately and pass sensible postal reform legislation. NAPS supports the Senate-approved bill and is urging its members to contact their House lawmakers to ask them to support the Senate bill. SEND THAT MESSAGE TO YOUR HOUSE LAWMAKER TODAY BY CLICKING HERE.