Postal Updates

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

Not ready to negotiate on postal bill

June 06, 2014 07:00 AM

At one point during the May 21 markup of yet another postal bill, Democrats excitedly believed that House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., was on the verge of disclosing what might be in the long-sought legislation that could pull the beleaguered United States Postal Service out of fiscal peril.

No, Issa quickly told the Democrats, now is not the time for negotiations over postal legislation.

Instead, the chairman insisted that his oversight committee approve another piece of what Issa suggested ultimately might become part of an overall, comprehensive legislation.

This time it was his bill directing the USPS to accelerate the number of addresses that must use centralized mail delivery boxes to 1.5 million addresses a year. After 10 years, Issa said, that could save the Postal Service $2 billion a year.

The bill cleared the committee on a party line vote. Republicans were for the change, and Democrats were all opposed.

The Democratic minority complained that Issa was ignoring the need to help bail out the deficit-ridden Postal Service.

They scoffed at the idea of a GOP proposed “delivery tax” for postal customers who could pay an annual fee to keep mail deliveries at their front door.

But Issa had the votes he needed. As for the Democrats, he urged patience.

At some point, Issa said his piecemeal approach to postal legislation will have enough parts for a sit-down over what the House should do to help the USPS.

What remains uncertain is when Issa and the House GOP leadership might decide is the right time to act on the future of the nation’s mail service.

Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., cautioned that there are fundamental differences between what Republicans and Democrats believe should lie ahead for the Postal Service.

Connolly said Democrats want Saturday mail service to continue, but Republicans are mostly opposed.

The Oversight committee did address the one postal issue both parities can agree on. It approved naming 15 different post offices in honor of 15 individuals.