Here comes more bad publicity concerning the financial situation of the Postal Service. The House of Representatives has failed to pass any postal reform this term. This means that the USPS will not make its next payment towards its prefunding obligation of future retiree health care costs. There will be some politicians who will brand this a “crisis” and use it for their political gain. In reality the reason postal reform has not passed is because the GOP leadership couldn’t get their members to agree to endorse a reckless plan.
The House has three paths to choose between regarding Postal Reform.
The most obvious path is to bring HR 1351 USPS Pension Obligation and Recalculation Act to up for a vote. It has a whopping 230 co sponsors, which is enough votes to pass the House quickly. It fixes the massive over funding of the postal CSRS and FERS accounts. June 18th the OIG issued a report showing the USPS has a 2011 pension surplus of $13.1 billion. Fixing the over funding problem would put the USPS on the path to long-term financial stability. It’s a bi-partisan solution and clearly is the fastest way to achieve postal reform. Government Oversight Committee Chairmen Issa has not allowed his committee to even vote on HR 1351.
Another option is Speaker Boehner taking the Senate Postal Reform Bill S1789 , which passed in May directly to the full House for a vote. This tactic would get around the roadblock by Issa. Mr. Boehner has not shown the political will to make this happen.
Instead GOP House leaders are pushing Issa’s own bill HR2309. This is a draconian bill that eliminates both a day of delivery and most door-to-door delivery while scaling back collective bargaining and closing thousands of Post Offices. This bill sets up the Postal Service to be a museum relic in a short time.
HR 2309 passed out the House Oversight Committee 22-18 with only GOP support last October. That’s where the bill has stalled. It has never been brought to the floor for a vote. House majority leader Eric Cantor promised a vote on this bill between July 4th and the August recess but it will not happen. Apparently the GOP leadership can’t coerce enough members to join them in dismantling the Postal Service.
Issa’s House Oversight Committee has taken action on 550 bills in this congressional term. Only one of those bills has more cosponsors than 1351. So Issa has chosen 549 bills with less co sponsors to debate because he does not want an alternative to his own unpopular Postal Destruction Bill.
This congressional inaction has placed the USPS in a position where they will likely not pay the $11.1 billion in congressionally mandated pre payments. They are due in two payments one on August 1, the other on September 30. In reality these payments are not needed as these plans are already are more than sufficiently funded.
What this all means is another GOP manufactured crisis. Undoubtedly these missed payments will become a “crisis” and political opportunism will rule the day. The House leadership is far more comfortable with political hostage taking then participating in real political discourse, as we have seen with the FAA, debt ceiling and super committee deadlocks. They most likely will attempt to hold the USPS hostage until they can gather enough support in Congress for HR 2309. Let’s hope they don’t kill the hostage.