Golly, what a surprise!
Today’s scheduled markup of postal reform before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been cancelled.
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”:
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!
The four unions representing rank and file postal workers have sent the following letter to Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the Ranking Member:
Dear Mr. Issa and Mr. Cummings:
We write to share our views on the hearing held on April 8, 2014 on the President’s proposals in the FY 2015 budget regarding the U.S. Postal Service. We write on behalf of nearly 500,000 postal employees who live and work in every Congressional District in America and who belong to our unions. We respectfully request that this letter be included in the record of the hearing. Read More
APWU Web News Article #064-14, April 9, 2014
The Postal Service needs real reform — not the austerity proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and the White House, APWU President Mark Dimondstein said after an April 8 hearing by a House committee. The hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Rep. Issa chairs, focused on White House budget items concerning the Postal Service. Unfortunately, Issa found a lot to like in the administration’s proposals.
President Dimondstein’s remarks are below:
“Yesterday’s hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, focused on a White House budget that would harm service, drive away business, and eliminate jobs. It calls for the immediate end of Saturday delivery and would allow the Postal Service to begin to shift from door delivery to centralized delivery. Many of the concepts in the administration’s budget can be found in H.R. 2748, a bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa.
“The proposed budget also fails to eliminate the pre-funding requirement of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which is the fundamental cause of the Postal Service’s manufactured financial crisis. Instead, it would simply restructure the payments. The pre-funding requirement is consistently cited as justification for shuttering mail processing plants, lowering service standards and slowing the mail.
“These budget proposals were first developed in 2011 and have been repeated in proposals since then. They weren’t worthy proposals then and they certainly aren’t now.
“With the Postal Service posting operating profits in mail and package delivery, there is absolutely no justification to continue a strategy of austerity. Instead of damaging the infrastructure and network that is essential for providing service, the Postal Service must expand service. The recent report by USPS Office of Inspector General that endorses offering financial services is the exactly the kind of innovation that is needed.”
TESTIMONY OF BRIAN C. DEESE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET BEFORE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
April 8, 2014
The Administration recognizes the value the Postal Service adds to the Nation’s commerce and communications, and its essential role in stitching together the vast expanse of our country and connecting America with the global economy. For years the Postal Service has ranked among the most trusted Federal agencies, and it provides reliable and affordable universal service to millions of Americans. Read More