Congressman Darrell Issa, the self-appointed “watchdog” of the US Postal Service, has introduced yet another “reform” proposal. So far, none of Issa’s proposals have gotten much support, even from his own party- whether or not this one does remains to be seen.
Issa is obviously desperate to get someone, anyone, to back him. How desperate? He’s dropped the most outrageous provisions of his earlier bills, like the one that would have laid off any postal worker eligible for retirement, and he’s come up with what I’m sure he considers a master stroke- he claims his bill is actually Barack Obama’s idea.
Don’t believe me? According to the draft version, the bill’s title is “The Administration’s Postal Reform Act of 2014”. (You can’t make this stuff up!) Presumably he will present the bill as an incredibly clever “gotcha” moment that will provide him with some especially snide remarks to make at his next
show trial committee hearing.
So what’s actually in “The Administration”‘s bill? A couple of items that have appeared in the administration’s budget proposals (but which have never actually been introduced as legislation), like allowing five day delivery, and some that the administration has expressed some support for, like reducing the PAEA trust fund mandate. But the items that will no doubt attract the most attention are ones that Issa himself admits were never proposed by “the Administration”:
- The bill would allow the USPS to drop Saturday mail delivery, but would also allow “periodicals, newspapers and unstamped mail to be placed in mailboxes on days when the Postal Service does not provide mail delivery service“.
- Requires the Postal Service to convert residential addresses from door delivery to curbside or centralized delivery on a voluntary basis where possible and authorizes the Postal Service to require such conversions in areas the Postal Service “deems appropriate.”
- Permits the Postal Service to create a “Legacy Door Delivery Service” that allows residents to pay a fee to continue to receive door delivery if their addresses have been identified for conversion to curbside or centralized delivery.
If Darrell really wanted to pass a postal reform bill, he could do it tomorrow. Allowing the USPS to eventually drop Saturday delivery would be fought by postal workers, but would probably pass, as would reducing the PAEA mandate, allowing centralized delivery for new developments, etc. But if we’ve learned anything over the last couple of years, it’s that Darrell and his party aren’t really interested in proposing legislation that can pass both houses and be signed into law by the President.
So instead of a comprehensive postal reform package, we’ll continue to get bills like this one, designed not to solve problems, but to score points. Even minimal band-aid legislation will probably only become possible if the USPS actually approaches a cash flow crisis that endangers its ability to pay its employees and suppliers. At that point, Speaker Boehner might, as he has on rare occasions in the past, decide it’s better to cut his losses and allow legislation to reach the floor that could pass with the support of the Democrats and a minority of moderate Republicans. You know, by majority vote- the way we were told our Government worked back in Civics class- what a concept!