House Dem calls for firing postmaster general; blames Obama, GOP Congress

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) on Monday afternoon called on the the Obama administration to fire Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in light of Donahoe's announced plan for drastic service reductions at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

"This guy, this so-called postmaster general, should be fired because of a lack of any imagination or initiative," an angry DeFazio said on the House floor. "He's proposing the death knell for the great United States Postal Service."

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Donahoe announced the closure of more than 250 mail processing centers around the country and plans to slow the delivery of first class mail in order to help bring the USPS out of the red. DeFazio blamed the Obama administration for failing to help find a way out of the USPS's fiscal woes, and said Donahoe needs more help from the White House.

"The White House continues to be totally silent, absent from this debate," he said.

DeFazio also blamed House Republicans for rejecting proposals that would allow the USPS to take back some of the $7 billion in retirement payments it was required to make under current law for the future retirements benefits of current employees.

House Republicans on Monday rejected DeFazio's assertion that the GOP is unwilling to help. The office of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) noted that a bill from Issa and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) would allow the USPS to tap into the surplus payments it has made to the Federal Employee Retirement System to help with restructuring costs.

That bill, H.R. 2309, has already been passed by Issa's committee.

DeFazio also said Monday that he doubts what he said was the Republican claim that the private sector will be able to take over much of the USPS's work, and said cuts to rural delivery will likely be one major outcome of Donahoe's announcement.

"They think somehow the private sector will take over," DeFazio said of Republicans. "Tell me who in the private sector is going to deliver a letter for 45 cents to a small rural community 40 miles from the nearest, or 100 miles from the nearest, sorting facility? That's not going to happen. These people will be deprived of any meaningful service."

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DeFazio said generally that reduced mail service would be an "incredible blow" to the U.S. economy and would affect several companies and consumers who rely on the current level of service.

"I guess we'll become the first developed nation on earth without a postal service, just like we're the only developed industrial nation on earth without universal healthcare," DeFazio said. "We're the best."

— This story was updated at 4:27 p.m.