Issa claims he has veto power over six day delivery provision in appropriations bill

issaAPWU News July 9, 2014 – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, can’t seem to give up his quest to eliminate Saturday mail delivery.

On July 8, upset that the House Appropriations Committee restored protection for six-day delivery to a funding bill, the California Republican tried to employ a parliamentary maneuver to derail the measure.

In a message to House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), Issa claimed jurisdiction over all issues related to the Postal Service, and asserted that the six-day delivery provision should be subject to a House Rule that prohibits “legislation” in general appropriations bills.

“Rep. Issa’s complaint would be comical if it wasn’t such a serious attack on the people’s Postal Service,” said Legislative and Political Director John Marcotte. “In addition to protecting six-day delivery, the appropriations bill reverses the District of Columbia’s laws on marijuana possession, dictates how its locally-generated tax monies can be used, and takes away health care choices for women in the district.

“No matter how you feel about these issues, the irony is that they all fall under the purview of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But Rep. Issa didn’t let out a whimper of protest against these examples of ‘legislating’ via the Appropriations Bill. The hypocrisy is stunning but not unusual for Mr. Issa,” Marcotte said.

“Mr. Issa is not satisfied with using his authority as chairman to damage the USPS by blocking quality postal reform,” he added. “He is now trying to use parliamentary tricks to overturn a bipartisan vote saving six-day delivery. The public pays little attention to the House Rules Committee, but Issa’s moves are critically important because he is leading the charge in the House to dismantle the Postal Service.”

CBO: Issa’s postal bill would save USPS $23.6 billion, cost taxpayers $6.6 billion

The Congressional Budget Office has released its estimate of the budget impact of Darrell Issa’s postal bill, HR 2748. The bill would reduce USPS expenses by

  • eliminating Saturday mail delivery
  • reducing benefits to postal workers and retirees
  • eliminating home delivery of mail for some customers
  • changing the pre-funding formula for USPS future retiree health benefits

The CBO says that those measures would save the USPS $23.6 billion over the next ten years. The estimate assumes that customers would be willing to pay increased rates for the reduced services the USPS would offer in the future. The Issa bill would also shift $6.6 billion in costa to the taxpayer, increasing the federal budget deficit. (Apparently it’s not a “bailout” if Congressman Issa proposes it?)

CBO Estimate: H.R.2748 – 113th Congress (2013-2014): Postal Reform Act of 2013 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress.

Issa silences Democrats, tells them they aren’t allowed to question his “integrity”

The postal service wasn’t on the agenda at Monday’s session of the Issa House Oversight Committee, but what happened at the latest of Issa’s IRS/Benghazi show trials goes a long way towards explaining why the committee, and the House as a whole, are unable to deal with postal reform- or much else, aside from making a mockery of the legislative process. From Roll Call:

US-POLITICS-IRS-LERNER
Darrell Issa signals an aide to silence Rep. Elijah Cummings’ microphone at one of his “hearings”
Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee went after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen again Monday, while Democrats on the panel reserved much of their ire for Chairman Darrell Issa. Issa, involved in a high-profile clash earlier this year with Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the panel, was criticized repeatedly during Monday’s hearing by Democrats who dismissed the proceeding as election-year posturing.

At one point, the California Republican warned Democrats that House rules forbid members from questioning the integrity or motives of other members — touching off a heated protest from Rep. Steven Horsford. The Nevada Democrat angrily contrasted Issa’s admonition Monday with the March 5 incident, in which Cummings’ microphone was turned off mid-statement on Issa’s orders. Issa repeatedly cut Horsford off, insisting the lawmaker “state a point of parliamentary inquiry,” until Cummings broke in and asked the chairman to “Let him ask the question.”

“I will not,” Issa said.

Read more: Issa, Cummings Clash Anew Over Hearing on Lost IRS Emails.

Issa’s latest bill would let USPS mandate centralized delivery, allow anyone to put stuff in your mailbox

110808_darrell_issa_605_apCongressman 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.

Seriously.

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!