President Biden signs law for postal truck funding
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
A jubilant President Joe Biden appears to have won his fight with the United States Postal Service over electric postal trucks.
The dispute seems to have been settled the way the president wanted with the passage of what he called “one of the most significant laws in our history.”
The Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed Aug. 16, authorizes a $3 billion federal payment to the USPS for the purchase of zero-emission delivery vehicles and charging infrastructure.
That should give Biden what he sought from the independent Postal Service and assure that the next generation fleet of mail delivery trucks is powered by electricity.
The president made clear earlier this year that he wanted the federal government to be a leader in electric vehicles and that he wanted the Postal Service to lead the way.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican, was not enamored of the idea.
Initially, he planned for only 10 percent of his first truck order to be electric.
But as the pressure rose from Democrats in Congress and environmental groups, DeJoy retreated.
Citing new studies, the postmaster general said that the Postal Service would increase its percentage of electric trucks.
He also hinted that funding would help dictate the final percentage.
At the White House ceremony, neither Biden nor the two Democratic lawmakers who spoke mentioned the postal appropriation.
Instead, they focused on several long-sought legislative provisions in the new law that Democrats, including Biden, have sought for years.
The Inflation Reduction Act seeks to curb inflation’s impact, cut prescription drug prices, reduce the federal deficit and make certain that large corporations pay a minimum tax on their profits. Political commentators have described it as Biden’s biggest legislative victory.
Its Senate passage came with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie on Aug. 7 between Democrats and opposing Republicans.
The measure had an easier passage in the Democratic-controlled House. It passed there on a 220 to 207 party-line vote on Aug. 12.
“With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost,” Biden told a friendly audience that cheered him repeatedly.
Postal officials had no comment on the ceremony.
USPS spokesman David Partenheimer referred to a July 20 statement that said, “based on improvements in our operational strategy, technology and financial circumstances, we expect the electric portion of our fleet to evolve upward. With passage of funding by Congress in support of that effort, we will move forward with assessing the impact on our plans.”
Given the 10-year Delivering for America plan DeJoy has begun, it would seem unlikely that the Postal Service will turn down taxpayer funding for the most expensive vehicle purchase it has made.
The law makes clear that Congress expects zero-emission vehicles will be purchased over several years with the funds.
It grants the USPS $1.29 billion for nonpolluting vehicles through 2031 and $1.7 billion for the infrastructure to charge those vehicles at postal facilities.
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