Sep 21 2011- Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) today delivered the following statement at the House Oversight and Government Reform Hearing on Chairman Darrel Issa’s legislation to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service.
The Postal Service is enshrined in Article 1 of the Constitution. It is the lifeblood of rural communities across America and a $1 trillion private mailing industry which employs over eight million people. The Postal Service ensures that seniors can get their prescription drugs delivered in a timely fashion and creates opportunities for small businesses that ship parcels. Chairman Issa’s bill would sacrifice all of these valuable services the Postal Service provides in order to eviscerate the Postal Service workforce and the unions that represent some of their employees.
Chairman Issa’s bill would close thousands of Post Offices and mail processing facilities, reduce mail service to 5 days or, for rural areas, even fewer, and would eliminate mail delivery for 90% of individuals who have it delivered to their door. In order to dismantle the Postal Service he would create two new bureaucracies which would supersede both the Postal Service management and the Postal Regulatory Commission. These multimillion dollar bureaucracies would be largely unaccountable to Congress and the American people, but would be charged by statute with ending Postal Service as we know it.
This bill would not save the Postal Service: It would destroy it. Chairman Issa’s bill applies a combination of flagellation and bloodletting to a patient who everyone acknowledges is sick. Instead of bleeding USPS dry, we should give it the authority and flexibility to thrive in the 21st century. First, we should fix the ill-conceived requirement that the Postal Service prefund 100% of its anticipated retirement pension and health costs. We also should refund the $50-$75 billion pension overpayment. These two simple steps, which would not cost a dime to taxpayers, would give the Postal Service time to make more fundamental changes to its business model.
Unfortunately, Chairman Issa’s bill does not give the Postal Service the authority it needs to reform its business model and thrive in the 21st century. Rather than allow it to raise revenue like other businesses, the Issa bill explicitly prevents the Postal Service from engaging in commercial activity unless expressly authorized by Congress—a strange proposal from the party that claims to be against ‘picking winners and losers.’ Like Senator Collins, Senator Carper, and other thoughtful observers, I have introduced legislation and will be introducing an amendment to let the Postal Service raise revenue through use of its existing network of facilities, in partnership with the private sector.
I also will be introducing amendments to replace the unnecessary, destructive provisions in Chairman Issa’s bill which would dismantle the Postal Service, and instead relieve the Postal Service of a burden imposed by Congress—retirement prefunding.
We should not be misled by the false choice presented by Chairman Issa, between letting the Postal Service default or dismantling it through his bill. Instead, we should pass legislation that combines short term reforms on retirement prefunding and pension overpayment with long term business model reforms.
I will be opposing the Issa bill in its current form.
source: Congressman Gerry Connolly