By Bernie Becker - 05/07/14 08:47 PM EDT
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) postponed his plans to consider a new measure to revamp the U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday, and challenged his Democratic colleagues to work with him on crafting a bipartisan bill.
Those proposals included several provisions — such as giving the USPS the authority to roll back Saturday delivery and pushing for more centralized delivery — that Issa already favors.
But, as Issa noted in a Wednesday letter to his committee’s top Democrat, his new bill also contained ideas he wasn’t a fan of, like making permanent a temporary increase in the price of stamps.
"I believe it is vital for this committee to make every effort within its power to move forward on a bipartisan basis on commonsense reforms to save a beleaguered agency that is a vital lifeline to millions of Americans and to our economy as a whole," Issa wrote to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
Issa and GOP aides had cast the new postal bill as a challenge to Democrats to get behind reforms embraced by the White House. The USPS lost close to $16 billion in 2012, and then $5 billion in 2013.
But Democrats, postal unions and even some Republicans are no fans of rolling back six-day delivery. The Postal Service has proposed getting rid of Saturday letter delivery, while still delivering packages six days a week.
“I have said consistently that I believe Congress should pass postal reform legislation that is bipartisan and that includes provisions on which we all agree,” Cummings told The Hill in a statement.
“The fact is that dozens of House Republicans and Democrats oppose the move to five-day delivery. I sincerely hope that we will be able to adopt a consensus bill that every Member of our committee can support.”
With GOP leadership as yet showing little interest in Issa’s last measure, postal observers and labor officials also suggested it didn’t make much sense for the Oversight Committee chairman to bring up another measure that passed on a party-line basis.
Fredric Rolando, president of The National Association of Letter Carriers, said he was “glad to see the hearing on this counterproductive bill postponed,” and challenged lawmakers to end a required prepayment for future retirees healthcare that has caused most of the USPS’s losses in the last couple of years.