Lawmakers Closing Gap for Bipartisan Postal Overhaul

Flickr user cobalt220

Lawmakers on the House oversight committee continued to find common ground toward a bipartisan bill to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, with a key Republican conceding several major Democratic sticking points at a hearing Wednesday.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced several changes to his draft legislation in an effort to appease his critics.

“We want to get as close to 100 percent before it comes to the committee,” Issa said after Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s ranking member, voiced numerous concerns in response to Issa’s bill.

Issa -- who released his draft legislation in June -- said he would relent to pressure to eliminate the bill’s proposal to require the renegotiations of collective bargaining agreements. He added, however, the next round of negotiations between USPS and its employee unions would have to fall in line with the rest of the federal workforce -- including the availability of layoffs. Overall, Issa agreed to include several provisions from Cummings’ own bill, which the ranking member released last week.

The committee chairman also agreed to include assumptions specific to the Postal Service’s workforce in making pension surplus calculations, rather than using the same formula as the rest of the federal workforce. Democratic lawmakers and postal stakeholders have long called for the USPS-specific assumptions.

The Republican proposal will create a chief innovation officer, a key provision in Cummings’ bill.

Prior to Issa’s concessions, Cummings expressed discontent with his Republican colleague’s plan. “I am disappointed in the draft language put forward by the chairman,” Cummings had said. “If we reject extreme measures…I believe we can identify common sense provisions that provide for common good.”

With many concerns raised in prepared testimony from several Democratic lawmakers mollified by Issa’s announcement, however, the committee moved much closer to striking a bipartisan deal.

“Our bills are not yet identical,” Issa said, but added the collaboration between to the two sides has been strong.

Later in the hearing, Cummings echoed the chairman’s confidence that a deal could be reached.

“We can resolve this,” Cummings said. “If we can send somebody to the moon, we can solve this.”

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe once again emphasized the need for such a deal in order to sustain his agency. He repeated calls for USPS to move to a five-day delivery schedule. He also called for a break with the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan and a move to a USPS-specific health care program.

“We need to build a bridge that gets us all the way to the other side,” Donahoe said. “Half measures are about as useful as a half bridge.”

Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, asked the committee to provide the postmaster general with flexibility, but not to require him to adapt any specific provision.

“Unions and the Postal Service can work together to create a better postal service,” Guffey said.

The panel also heard testimony from Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., who spoke about his bill to preserve rural post offices. Issa said he “fully concurred” with the need to include the proposal in the final bill. 

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:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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