The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee gave its stamp of approval Thursday to a sweeping overhaul of the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service. In a bipartisan 9-1 vote, the committee approved the 2014 Postal Reform Act and sent the measure to the Senate floor. The bill, which is the brainchild of Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), presents a laundry list of proposals to revamp the financially troubled Postal Service.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee debated an updated version of postal reform legislation Wednesday that would allow the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service to restructure its health benefits program. Included in the revised postal reform bill from Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is a proposal that would create a new postal-only health plan within the broader Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).
A new bill would repeal reductions in military pensions approved by Congress late last month as part of the bipartisan budget deal and allow the U.S. Postal Service to reduce regular mail delivery to five days a week. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced the legislation Dec. 19, shortly before Congress decamped for the holidays.
The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service says it can return to being profitable and begin to pay down its debt if Congress gives it the authority to overhaul its health benefits structure. Postmaster General Pat Donahoe told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Thursday that launching a postal-specific health care plan would help save the agency $8 billion annually through 2016.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says a Senate bill aiming to overhaul the Postal Service’s financial structure by providing the agency more flexibility to price its products is a good first step. Donahoe has been calling on Congress to approve comprehensive postal reform for much of the last two years. In that time, the cash-strapped agency has posted losses of $20 billion and defaulted on more than $11 billion in payments to prefund retiree health care costs. USPS is set to default on a $5.6 billion payment due Sept. 30 payment, Donahoe said.
Congress returns to work today with a crowded agenda and little time. Lawmakers must come to agreement on 2014 funding before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30 or risk a government shutdown. Also on the agenda: coming up with an alternative to the automatic spending constraints known as sequestration and negotiating a raise in the government’s borrowing limit. There are also other measures affecting federal employees that remain to be worked out, including legislation to overhaul the cash-strapped Postal Service and a potential 1 percent pay raise for civilian federal workers.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved major postal reform legislation Wednesday. The 22-17 party-line vote moves the 2013 Postal Reform Act, introduced by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), to the full House for consideration.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, released long-anticipated legislation Friday aiming to reform the finances of the ailing U.S. Postal Service. Issa updated an earlier discussion draft of his bill with several proposals originally floated by Democrats.
In the past few weeks, competing draft proposals have been circulating on Capitol Hill. But at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Wednesday, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) took a step toward compromise. Issa agreed to make changes to his draft plan, including adopting several measures proposed by Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in postal reform legislation he separately introduced Wednesday.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a draft postal reform bill that supports ending Saturday mail delivery and would modify how the agency pre-funds retiree health-care payments that now threaten to sink the agency into financial insolvency. Congressional postal reform efforts have remained dormant so far this year, even as the Postal Service’s financial outlook has worsened.