Postal Reform Could Re-Emerge in the Lame Duck Congress

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, left, spearheaded a letter from 50 lawmakers to Sen. Ron Johnson, left, and other authors of a postal reform bill, to register their concerns. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, left, spearheaded a letter from 50 lawmakers to Sen. Ron Johnson, left, and other authors of a postal reform bill, to register their concerns. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Lawmakers are preparing to bring renewed attention to U.S. Postal Service reform in the lame-duck session of Congress, though in a challenge that will sound all too familiar to advocates for change, scores of members from both parties are already sounding the alarm about their concerns with current legislation.

A recent score from the Congressional Budget Office that found bipartisan, committee-cleared legislation would not negatively impact the federal debt have boosted the prospects for a vote on the measure in the final weeks of the 114th Congress, according to Senate aides. The 2016 Postal Reform Act, approved unanimously by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is now the vehicle most likely to receive further action this year.

More than 50 members of the House and 27 senators are preemptively telling the authors of that bill -- including both Republican and Democratic leadership on the oversight committee -- to note their problems with the measure. In a letter spearheaded by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., the lawmakers said the bill as currently written does not provide enough protections to ensure a high standard of mail service. The lawmakers are dropping a previous demand to return delivery standards to those USPS used in 2012, a Democratic aide said, before it virtually eliminated overnight mail delivery and slowed the two-to-three day window.

» Get the best federal news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

The Postal Reform Act fully integrates postal retirees’ health care with Medicare, requires most employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to select a plan specific to USPS workers, phases out to-the-door delivery for business customers and increases postal rates, among other changes. It is a good compromise for making the agency more financially solvent, the aide said, but does not place a strong enough emphasis on service. The lawmakers signing onto the letter are looking to ensure service standards are at least not further degraded. They also want clearer, regionally specific performance targets, with more accountability to certify that USPS meets them.

The exact specifics of what the lawmakers would need to sign onto the bill are still up for negotiation, the aide said, but they would not vote for it in its current form.

Dave Kuntz, a spokesman for Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who also signed the letter, said there “is a lot of uncertainty” for what will happen in the lame duck, which inspired the legislators to voice their concerns.

“The Postal Service and its employees play a vital role in our nation,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is essential that we preserve the Postal Service’s commitment to the American public. For this reason, improving service needs to be a critical piece of any comprehensive postal reform bill, along with the needed reforms to return the Postal Service to fiscal sustainability.”

USPS recently announced it lost $5.6 billion in fiscal 2016, despite increasing revenue and boosting its overall financial outlook. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.