Postal Service reform will be a lighter measure, lawmakers say

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Susan Walsh/AP

A compromise on U.S. Postal Service reform legislation -- not expected until after the November election -- likely won’t be as large of an overhaul on the cash-strapped agency as lawmakers had initially hoped, according to The Hill .

“We’ve been all along working on ideas that would be hybrids,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. told the newspaper. “We believe that at least some reform will get passed.”

Issa, chief architect of the House’s version of the postal reform bill, urged the White House last week to include some postal reform measures in the six-month continuing resolution to keep the government open after Sept. 30. Issa asked that interim reform legislation defer USPS’ $5.5 billion obligation to prefund retiree health benefits, allow the agency to move to five-day delivery and ban it from entering into no-layoff agreements with employees.

In a letter to President Obama, Issa acknowledged that although those measures alone would not restore USPS to solvency, they “address the reality of a federal agency’s default, and they help move the overall goal of comprehensive postal reform forward.”

But Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a leader on the Senate’s postal reform efforts, was confused by Issa’s letter, calling it “a piecemeal, short-term fix.”

In a statement last week, Carper said: “This was an unusual development and surprising, given that House leaders have said for months that they have the votes necessary to pass chairman Issa’s postal reform legislation.”

Postal reformers in the House previously said the decision to table debate on their bill was made by House leadership, but Issa told The Hill last week that the bill is likely to floor after the election.

The Senate passed its postal reform bill in April; the House has stalled on debating its bill.

The House and Senate plans feature several key differences, including on postal delivery. The House recommends USPS switch to a five-day delivery schedule; the Senate would stick with six-day delivery. The Obama administration supports reducing mail delivery to five days beginning in fiscal 2013.

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