Government affairs

Legislative Updates

House committee holds hearing on federal reorganization and USPS privatization

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) held a hearing today titled, “Examining the Administration’s Government-Wide Reorganization Plan,” with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert as a witness.

The hearing was to explore the administration’s recently-announced reorganization plan that includes a proposal first to restructure the U.S. Postal Service, then to privatize it. NALC released a statement on proposal, viewable here.

While the hearing touched on a number of subjects that invited debate from lawmakers, the restructuring plan and postal privatization took most of the attention. A number of committee members, primarily Democrats, expressed their concern, skepticism, and displeasure with the proposals, noting especially the intent to shift functions of the Office of Personnel Management into the Executive Office of the President, including those that ensure a merit-based, nonpartisan civil service system.

In his opening remarks, OGR’s Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) expressed his frustration with both the Administration’s plans on USPS and the federal government as a whole, as well as their claims that such proposals are introduced in an effort “to build bipartisan dialogue,” quoting the White House’s press release. He cited the bipartisan “Postal Service Reform Act of 2017” (H.R. 756) that passed unanimously out of committee as an example.

“Instead of working with us, President Trump unilaterally appointed a task force to come up with its own ideas about the Postal Service. Then, without even waiting for his own task force’s results, President Trump rushed in this proposal to eliminate it entirely,” said Rep. Cummings. “Like so many other ideas that come out of this White House, President’s Trump’s proposal to privatize the Postal Service is disorganized, unilateral and frankly incompetent. I do not think this plan is a serious one.”

In her responses to questioning, Deputy Director Weichert made a point to reference the state of USPS finances, citing six years of default and $100 billion in unfunded liabilities as motivation for reorganizing and eventually privatizing the agency.

“Privatization is definitely a vision for the longer term and a framework that could be looked at,” said Weichert. “The near-term has to be about economic improvement in the Postal Service. You couldn’t privatize an entity that has the level of liabilities and economic challenge that the existing Postal Service does.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Ranking Member of the House OGR Subcommittee on Government Operations, was quick to note Weichert neglected to mention the 2006 mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits, which accounts for 92 percent of losses since 2007 and is unaddressed in the proposals.

“I will point out that the Post Office is in the Constitution. I think it is important for everybody to realize what's in the Constitution. And also important for everybody to realize what's not in the Constitution, the federal government is forbidden to do,” said Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) who was skeptical about the administration’s plans to sell off the Postal Service.

NALC opposes all efforts to privatize the Postal Service and will work tirelessly with other stakeholders and Congress to oppose this plan. NALC will continue to monitor any action around the plan or attempts to insert similar language into must-pass legislation, and will be sure to keep letter carriers informed on such matters.

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