Powerful House Republicans Endorse Major Funding Increase for USPS Regulator

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is one of the lawmakers urging full funding. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is one of the lawmakers urging full funding. Susan Walsh/AP

It is not often that two conservative lawmakers, one a member of the Freedom Caucus, publicly advocate for a proposal put forward by President Obama, especially when that proposal is asking for more government spending.

Such is the case, however, with the White House’s request to boost the funding for the U.S. Postal Service’s overseers. The Postal Regulatory Commission does not receive taxpayer-funded dollars, perhaps alleviating any concerns of two powerful Republican lawmakers who are pushing to ensure Congress mandates the agency receives enough money to pay for a slew of upcoming tasks.

Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of that panel’s Government Operations Subcommittee, wrote a letter to the head of the subcommittee that drafts the spending bill including postal appropriations to ask for full funding of Obama’s $17.7 million request for the PRC.

The regulatory body funding has remained flat since 2008, which Chaffetz and Meadows said is no longer sustainable. Congress appropriates money to the PRC through the off-budget Postal Service Fund, paid for entirely though postal revenue on products and services. Fully funding PRC would mark a 16 percent increase over the fiscal 2016 spending cap.

“The ongoing financial difficulties of the Postal Service have led to an increasingly burdensome and complex workload for the PRC,” the lawmakers wrote. Initiatives to keep the postal ship afloat “require the PRC’s attention,” they said. In addition to this increased workload, the agency will be tasked in fiscal 2017 with reviewing the current USPS pricing structure and determining how to reform it.

It will be the first such evaluation since Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act in 2006.

The PRC’s budget request “would allow it to hire staff to meet critical mission needs, and enable the PRC to conduct upcoming statutorily mandated postal rate review,” Chaffetz and Meadows wrote in the letter to Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla. “We respectfully request that the subcommittee gives strong consideration to funding the PRC at the level the president requested.”

In its February budget justification, PRC also mentioned its “historically growing workload of docketed cases” and the upcoming rate review. Additionally, the agency wants to up its staffing by 14 percent to 80 full time equivalents, pay its increasing rent and revamp its cybersecurity efforts.

Gail Adams, a PRC spokeswoman, said, “We appreciate the responsiveness and support” from the lawmakers. 

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