There May Finally Be a Breakthrough in the Long Fight for Postal Reform

Alex Washburn / AP file photo

The four major unions representing U.S. Postal Service employees have all thrown their support behind a renewed effort to overhaul the agency, providing what supporters are calling a “watershed event” in the drawn-out battle for reform.

Lawmakers expressed broad bipartisan support for the 2017 Postal Reform Act at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Tuesday, saying the time has long since passed for Congress to act on USPS’ behalf. Republicans on the committee and witnesses at the hearing said reform is urgent, arguing that doing nothing would result in a taxpayer-funded bailout of the mailing agency.

Lawmakers have struggled in each of the last several sessions of Congress to bring together the array of different interests in USPS affairs, but appeared to reach a breakthrough with their latest efforts. Unlike previous attempts at postal reform, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union all threw their support behind the bill. Art Sackler, head of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service -- a group representing dozens of private sector businesses in mailing and other industries -- also announced his association’s full backing. Postmaster General Megan Brennan said her agency supported the bill as well.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the bill’s author and the oversight committee’s chairman, worked on getting another powerful ally on board Tuesday, pitching postal reform during his 30-minute meeting with President Trump at the White House.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who has become a de facto postal point man as chairman of the oversight committee’s government operations panel, said at the hearing, “I have learned more about postal reform than I ever cared to know.” He said after the hearing he expected the committee to mark up the bill in the next 30 to 45 days. The committee unanimously approved a largely similar bill in the last session of Congress, but it never received a vote on the floor. Lawmakers said Tuesday discussions continued until the 11th hour, but ultimately they ran out of time.

The unanimous backing from labor this time around provides a “watershed event” that “changes the outlook” for reform, Meadows said. He added that he expected some “fine tuning” of the bill in the coming weeks.

Meadows’ enthusiasm was shared throughout the committee.

“I have not seen unions work so hard anywhere to try to come up with solutions,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., another cosponsor of the bill. “And I thank you.” 

The bill would not give the Postal Service everything on its wish list, with Brennan noting the agency would have preferred a larger price increase for its products. She accepted the compromise, she said, as it would enable USPS to realize $26 billion in combined cost reductions and new revenue over five years.

Robert Taub, chairman on the Postal Regulatory Commission, said the Postal Service has already suffered from congressional inaction as it postpones investments in capital projects, and warned the situation will worsen rapidly without intervention.

“There will be some hell to pay if there isn’t change,” Taub said. 

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

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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