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Legislative Update, May 23, 2014


On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee introduced and approved the “Secure Delivery for America Act of 2014” (H.R. 4670) along a party-line vote. The bill calls for requiring the Postal Service to eliminate door delivery for 15 million addresses by forcing 1.5 million households and businesses to convert from door delivery to curbside or cluster boxes every year over the next 10 years.

While the bill includes language allowing for waivers for persons with disabilities, all others who choose to retain their door delivery instead of converting to centralized, curbside or sidewalk delivery cluster box would be forced to pay a “delivery tax” for their door service. The bill also calls for requiring the Postal Service to offer and pay for a voucher program to offset the cost of the conversion.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), who sits on the committee and is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census, dubbed H.R. 4670 “a lousy idea." Other lawmakers expressed concern over the viability of the idea in urban areas where there is not sufficient space on city streets for cluster boxes.

“I simply do not agree that we can reform the Postal Service for the better by eliminating the current six day mail delivery,” Lynch said, “by mandating a wholesale conversion of door delivery addresses to curbside cluster box or sidewalk delivery, or by asking postal customers to pay a fee in order to retain their door delivery service.”

During Wednesday’s mark-up meeting, OGR Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) highlighted the Postal Service’s positive second quarter financials and the need for comprehensive postal reform.

“As I have said before, the Postal Service cannot cut its way to profitability,” Cummings said. “I believe we need to pass comprehensive reform legislation that we can all agree on. And I believe the Postal Service should have significantly expanded authority to develop and introduce new products and services to meet customers’ changing needs. If the Postal Service is to be run like a business, it should have the flexibility all other businesses have to provide products people really want. Unfortunately, the legislation before us today is not a comprehensive reform measure.”

Cummings and other lawmakers noted that, since 2006, the Postal Service has reduced its total workforce by more than 200,000 employees and streamlined its operations through network closures and consolidations. They also called attention to the Postal Services’ expanded parcel and package services, highlighting an 8 percent growth in the second quarter and dismissing H.R. 4670 as another attempt to dismantle the network without addressing key reform provisions—such as repealing the pre-funding requirement.

“I’m open to other refinements,” committee member Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said. “Let’s repeal what we did in 2006 because it was wrong and has created red ink.”

In the absence of meaningful postal reform being considered by the committee, NALC will continue to lobby against H.R. 4670 and any other bill put forward that continues the attacks on the postal network and postal employees. We will encourage all NALC members to contact their House members to oppose this legislation.


On Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census held a hearing titled “Examining Innovative Postal Products for the 21st Century.” The hearing witnesses—including representatives from the Postal Service, Outbox Inc.,, M-pack Systems and Newgistics Inc., as well as USPS Inspector General David Williams—discussed new opportunities to generate more revenue and business, as well as their concerns over the USPS’ response to private-sector business needs.

During the hearing, USPS emphasized the need for postal reform and highlighted the “severely limited, statutorily-mandated, restrictive business model” with respect to meeting the innovative needs of the industry. The private-sector businesses expressed frustration over the limited nature of innovation with the USPS and encouraged members of Congress to recognize the need for effective reform that would allow the Postal Service to innovate and thrive in today’s marketplace.

While the focus of the hearing was innovation, it inevitably turned into a discussion on postal reform, with Subcommittee Ranking Member Stephen Lynch (D-MA) discussing the Postal Service’s partnership with Amazon to expand into seven-day delivery.

“It’s an example of innovation rather than degradation of existing postal products and services and we will be well served to take a similar approach as we continue to undertake the critical task of reforming today’s Postal Service,” Lynch said. “The agency can experience positive financial results when it capitalizes and builds upon what it already does best, utilizing an unparalleled and universal mail network that is driven by a hard working dedicated workforce to deliver the mail to the American people now seven days a week.”

When discussing Outbox, a digital delivery company that recently closed its doors while blaming USPS for its demise, Lynch stated that a decline in mail volume would be “really disruptive” for the Postal Service.
Recognizing the environmental popularity of digital mail, Lynch went on to discuss its detrimental impacts to postal employees. “That’ll be a terrible thing for the United States Postal Service’s letter carriers; it’ll cause a drop in volume, but that’s really disruptive change. That’s what we’re going to have to deal with at some point.”


On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee approved legislation (S. 1045) that would allow for the termination of federal employees and postal employees who are seriously delinquent on their tax debt. The bill would also make applicants who have “seriously delinquent tax debts” ineligible for federal employment.

The bill, which was introduced last year by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) was approved by the committee with modest revisions. These included a more lengthy notification process for current federal employees in default and an additional notification of employee to address the situation before termination.

In its current form, the bill targets a small class of current employees, since it has been widely reported by the Internal Revenue Service that 97 percent of federal employees pay their taxes on time, as compared with 92 percent of the general public.

The House passed its companion bill, the “Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act” (H.R. 249) last year, which means that if the Senate continues to advance its version of the bill, the two pieces of legislation would be sent to a conference committee and then to President Obama for his signature.

The NALC strongly opposes legislation that singles out federal and postal employees and will continue to lobby against this attack on workers.


The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was scheduled to take up a package of postal designation bills on Wednesday, including H.R. 2291, which was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) last year to designate the New York City Post Office located at 450 Lexington Avenue in New York City as the "Vincent R. Sombrotto Post Office,” in honor of the NALC’s long-serving national president, who died in 2013.

Unfortunately, the committee ran out of time during its full business meeting and did not take up the measure. But the NALC fully expects that the measure will be taken up when the committee schedules its next business meeting, and that it will pass with no objections. UPDATE: The committee, by unanimous consent, has approved the measure. It will next be sent on to the full House for its expected approval; such legislation is typically tacked on to other measures being voted on by the House.

Following House passage, the bill would be slated for Senate committee consideration and follow the same trajectory for Senate passage.