Funds for new USPS trucks in Biden’s recovery proposal
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
The Biden administration’s proposed $1.75 trillion economic recovery plan includes a massive infusion of taxpayer dollars into the United States Postal Service to pay for its long sought-after fleet of electric mail delivery trucks.
That’s the word from postal officials and House Democratic leaders who said the measure will give the financially troubled agency “roughly $6 billion” for the new vehicles.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House of Representative’s Committee on Oversight and Reform, said in an Oct. 29 news release that passage of the measure will “ensure that the Postal Service purchases tens of thousands of clean electric vehicles and acquires the charging infrastructure necessary to support this new electric fleet.”
The spending measure is a slimmed down version of what was once a Democratic plan for spending about $3.5 trillion on a variety of economic programs. But it has stalled in the House because liberal Democrats are demanding much larger programs.
Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said that postal provision will allow the agency to complete its transition to what it calls next generation vehicles by 2028.
“As an agency that is otherwise self-funded, the U.S. Postal Service appreciates Congress’ recognition that our electric ambition does not currently align with our financial condition and urgent operational needs,” he said in a statement.
If Congress approves the Build Back Better Act as it was released in the House on Oct. 29, Partenheimer said the agency expects it could have 70 percent of its delivery trucks electrically powered by the end of the decade.
The idea of taxpayers paying for the new fleet could resolve the riddle of how the financially distressed Postal Service could finance its largest vehicle purchase, a purchase made all the more urgent by a series of fires that is depleting the current fleet of 30-year-old mail delivery vehicles.
Those trucks, called long-life vehicles, have outlived their expected use and have to be repaired constantly.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy initially told Congress he expected only 10 percent of the agency’s initial truck purchases could be electric. The purchases would be stretched over a number of years.
That provoked complaints from a number of Democratic lawmakers who said the Postal Service would delay President Joe Biden’s plan to make the federal government a major user of electric vehicles.
The pending House bill calls for $2.57 billion for the purchase of new electric postal trucks and $3.51 billion for building the charging infrastructure needed to support the trucks.
DeJoy said that the USPS, which has run multibillion dollar deficits for years, did not have sufficient funds to build charging stations for an electric fleet.
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