Will a Busy Fall Congressional Schedule Derail Postal Reform?

David Goldman/AP File Photo

The top oversight leader in the House has vowed to move forward with his bill to reform the U.S. Postal Service, despite the full plate of high-priority issues Congress currently faces.

Both the House and Senate, which came back to Washington this week after a month-long recess, must vote on authorizing President Obama to use military force in Syria; a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown; and raising the looming debt ceiling, which the Treasury Department said the government will hit in mid-October.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and author of the 2013 Postal Reform Act, continues to work on a legislative fix to the mailing agency that is currently hemorrhaging millions of dollars daily.

Issa “continues to communicate” with USPS officials and other leaders in the House, according to his spokesman, Ali Ahmad, and is working with his “counterparts in the Senate and stakeholders” to advance reform legislation.

Issa’s bill cleared the oversight committee without Democratic support, and he “hopes to bring it to a vote [in the full House] in the near future,” Ahmad said.

Another potential roadblock to postal reform cropped up Monday when several federal employee groups announced their opposition to two major provisions included in the most significant Senate proposal to overhaul USPS.

The American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union, and National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association expressed concern with provisions to reform the workers’ compensation program for all federal employees and remove postal workers from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The proposals were included in bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

USPS employees have their own unions -- which have been highly critical of the Carper-Coburn bill -- and groups like AFGE and NTEU do not typically wade into postal issues. They said, however, the bill would have a negative impact on the entire federal workforce -- not just postal employees.

The workers’ compensation portion of the bill would lower the benefits provided to employees injured on the job who reach retirement age. These employees would receive compensation in line with their retirement benefits, rather than the larger percentage of their full salary they currently earn.

“Forcing a worker at retirement age to give up regular [Federal Employees’ Compensation Act] benefits earned as a result of an on-the-job injury,” the groups said in a joint statement, “would cause grave economic hardship to many disabled workers.”

The Senate bill, which would allow but not require the Postal Service to opt of FEHBP in favor of its own health benefits system, would weaken insurance coverage for federal employees by lowering the number of people in the pool, the employee groups said. Currently, about 25 percent of FEHBP enrollees are postal workers or retirees.

“It would be not only unwise to dilute FEHBP in this way, it would be another enormously unfair blow to these dedicated public servants and their families,” said NTEU president Colleen M. Kelley.

The Government Accountability Office found in a recent report that USPS’ proposal to take its employees out of FEHBP would largely not affect non-postal enrollees, but said about 29,000 federal workers would have to select a new health plan, as some plans that primarily offer services to USPS workers would drop out of the program.

Carper also said he hoped to make progress quickly, despite the looming obstacles that could slow the momentum for reform.   

The Senate committee will hold two hearings later in September, and Carper is "eager to move forward" with his bill, according to a committee aide.

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:

  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

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

    Download

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