House Republican leaders have given up on passing postal reform legislation for the foreseeable future. They have indicated that they do not intend to take up either the Senate-passed postal reform measure or alternative House legislation before the month-long August recess, which begins on August 4.
Even after the House returns on September 10, it is unlikely that postal legislation will be brought to the floor during the eight days in September and early October when Congress will be in session, before taking a six-week break for the election recess. And chances of Congressional action on postal business during the lame duck session (between Thanksgiving and Christmas) are dim. That’s because weighty tax cut, deficit reduction and debt ceiling issues will then dominate the legislative agenda. The election results could also push postal business over to next year.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the Issa-Ross postal bill (H.R. 2309) in January, and the Senate passed their bill (S. 1789) in late April, but House Republican leaders since then have not expressed interest in completing House action. Why? Several reasons are possible, including other GOP legislative and political priorities, and insufficient Republican votes to pass the Issa-Ross postal bill. In addition, rural GOP lawmakers are especially edgy, only months away from the election, about voting for a measure that could lead to the closure of their own post offices. (The Issa-Ross bill would establish a commission for closing thousands of post offices in a fashion similar to the military base-closing process.)
All this means that the Postal Service will continue to pursue the preliminary plans they announced earlier this spring to reduce operating hours in thousands of post offices, as well as begin to consolidate scores of mail processing centers — without critical systemic and financial relief from Congress. It means that the cash-strapped Postal Service will default on August 1 in failing to pay $5.5 billion into a retiree health fund, an obligation that was originally due last September, but deferred. And on September 30, the Postal Service is likely to default again, this time on a $5.6 billion payment to the same fund.
Who’s to blame for the situation? A Federal Times editorial this week plainly suggested: ” The House’s failure to act is disgraceful. Through their inaction, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are demonstrating contempt for the Postal Service and a lack of respect for the law and for the obligations of their own institution.”
Is Semi-Retirement Something You Should Consider?
Retirement-eligible federal and postal employees will become able to phase into retirement by working part-time, while receiving a partial annuity and mentoring new employees, under a bill recently signed into law by President Obama.
Under the measure (Section 100121 of H.R. 4348, beginning on page 512), semi-retired employees who work part-time will continue to earn credit toward their retirement annuity and contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan.
How will phased-retirement work and who should consider doing it? Check here for the answers.