NAPS Leg/Reg Update: 5/10/2012
The plans announced on Wednesday by the Postal Service to keep open thousands of rural post offices has neutralized one of the most controversial provisions in the House postal measure, backed by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and awaiting floor action. Numerous problems with the House legislation yet remain, and Republican House leaders have not yet signalled when they intend to bring the Issa legislation to the floor, but it could come next month.
House GOP hesitancy to bring their bill (HR 2309) to the floor has been caused by the some of the same rank-and-file concerns about facility closures that Senate backbenchers initially raised about the Senate bill in January that Democrat leaders had planned to bring to the floor. That pushback resulted three months later in passage of a revised and improved Senate measure. A similar backlash by Republican House lawmakers in recent months, many of them from rural districts, has turned against the Issa bill and especially against the closure of post offices during an election year. The Issa bill had proposed significant post office closures through a base-closure like commission approach.
The Postmaster General’s announcement that rural post offices will remain open, but at reduced hours of operation, largely takes the sting out of the post office closure issue, adding to the possibility of House action on postal reform in the coming weeks. A new Postal Service plan on processing plant closings is expected to be announced next week, which could mirror what the Senate already has done in their bill, closing fewer plants. (NAPS supports the Postal Service’s post office operations plan.)
Meanwhile, the bipartisan Senate-passed postal reform bill has moved over to the House, where Republican leaders have shown little interest in taking it up, despite the urgings of Senate Republican and Democratic leaders, as well as House Democrat and Republican members. Two weeks ago, the bill, the Senate approved the 21st Century Postal Service Act on a 62-37 vote after two days of Senate action on more than 30 amendments. (A summary of those amendments and how Senators voted on all roll call votes can be found here.) The House postal bill, HR 2309, was approved by the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee on March 29, but has not moved to the House floor since then.
American Legion Endorses Plant Closure Limits, Veterans Rights
NAPS is grateful for the support of the American Legion in drawing attention to the consequences of postal plant closures upon military veterans. Veterans comprise over 25% of the Postal Service workforce. When the Postal Service downsizes an operation, the rules of veteran’s preference apply to protect a veteran in the workplace, but not when when an entire competitive area is eliminated (closed) under RIF procedures as applies to many mail processing plant closures.
NAPS Headquarters has been working with veteran’s groups to alert them to this issue. With the assistance of two of NAPS members, Stanley Gold (Florida) and Paul Norton (Indiana), the American Legion National Convention passed a resolution calling for the limitation of processing plant closures and the protection of veterans employment rights. Read the resolution here.
The American Legion will now lobby Congress to ensure that postal legislation addresses these issues as part of sensible postal reform.