Issa holds out hope for postal reform this Congress

Rep. Darrell Issa's office

This story has been updated.

A top House Republican remains optimistic that the lame-duck session of Congress will approve a comprehensive reform of the U.S. Postal Service.

A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told Government Executive that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman is hopeful Congress will work out a major overhaul to the Postal Service before the end of the year.

“Chairman Issa is working toward and believes that comprehensive postal reform can be advanced this Congress,” said Ali Ahmad, Issa’s spokesman.

Ahmad pointed to a letter Issa wrote to President Obama in September outlining his vision for the reform. “The postelection lame-duck session will provide a much greater window of opportunity to enact legislation to restore the Postal Service to solvency,” Issa wrote.

Issa’s plan to make USPS -- which is losing billions of dollars each quarter and recently reached its borrowing limit -- solvent invovles closing and consolidating postal facilities, reducing delivery days  from six a week to five, creating an audit group to recommend savings, prohibiting labor contracts that prevent layoffs, allowing the agency to sell advertising on its facilities and vehicles, and requiring USPS employees to pay the same amount into their health and life insurance as other federal workers.

The bill passed Issa’s committee but has yet to face a vote on the House floor. The Senate passed its version of postal reform with 62 votes in April.

The Senate bill does not call for as many closures and changes the prefunding mandate for retiree health benefits. It also calls for reducing delivery days to five a week.

A spokeswoman for Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., told Government Executive the onus is on the Republican-controlled House to act.

“The senator would very much like postal reform to move out of Congress,” said Leslie Phillips, Lieberman’s spokeswoman, “but the burden is on the House, which has passed no legislation yet.”

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