Lawmaker Looks to Postal Service to Restore Military Pension Cut

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Thursday proposed legislation that would restore full cost-of-living adjustments for young military retirees Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Thursday proposed legislation that would restore full cost-of-living adjustments for young military retirees Carolyn Kaster/AP

A new bill would undo the recent cuts made to certain military retirees’ pensions, and in exchange allow the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Thursday proposed legislation that would restore full cost-of-living adjustments for young military retirees. The cuts -- which would decrease by 1 percent the COLAs received by working-age military retirees  with at least 20 years of experience until they turn 62 -- were included as a in the bipartisan budget deal passed in December.

The measure in the budget agreement would save $6 billion over 10 years, but has received significant pushback from many lawmakers and military groups. Several senators have proposed restoring the COLAs and offsetting them through other savings, vowing  to resume work on such legislation when Congress returns in January.

Issa’s bill would allow the Postal Service to implement a “modified” delivery schedule: Five-day delivery of standard mail, but continued six-day delivery of packages through at least 2018. USPS officials have long advocated such a move, saying it would save the agency nearly $2 billion annually.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe tried to adopt the five-day mail delivery schedule unilaterally, but his efforts were thwarted when Congress included a provision to require six-day delivery in its fiscal 2013 spending bill, as it has done in every spending bill since 1983.

Issa -- who included similar postal delivery language in his USPS overhaul bill that cleared his committee but hasn’t received a floor vote yet -- called the proposal a “common sense reform” endorsed by President Obama and oversight leaders in both parties in the Senate.

“This legislation will restore cost-of-living adjustments for our military retirees and not only replace the savings but nearly triple them,” Issa said, “saving $17 billion over 10 years according to conservative USPS estimates.”

While the move to drop Saturday mail delivery has been met with support from many lawmakers and the American public, postal unions and legislators from rural areas have voiced sharp opposition to any such reduction. Issa recently wrote a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., requesting that he not include any delivery mandate in the next spending measure.  

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