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‘Let It Go’
By Bob Levi
NAPS Director of Legislative & Political Affairs
The day before I submitted this column, Executive Vice President Chuck Mulidore and I had the opportunity to have a constructive, face-to-face conversation with Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee. During the meeting, we urged him to allow his committee to approve H.R. 3076, the “Postal Reform Act of 2021,” for a vote by the full House.
Admittedly, I was tempted to break into song with the chorus of “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen.” Fortunately, I stuck to my recognized skillset and did not challenge Tony Award-winning actress Idina Menzel’s singing talent. Nevertheless, the message that Mulidore and I conveyed was abundantly clear and resonated with Neal: Let H.R. 3076 go!
The disposition of the legislation hopefully will be inscribed by the House at the end of December; its ultimate fate will be sealed by the Senate in early 2022. For this reason, NAPS members and all those who champion a viable, universal Postal Service must continue to advocate for the only available legislative vehicle that helps achieve this goal.
The upcoming NAPS Legislative Training Seminar at the end of March will provide a key venue to hopefully complete the legislative journey of H.R. 3076. In the meantime, NAPS’ legislative advocates have been working hard to sustain grassroots support for moving postal relief legislation forward. We have communicated to members of Congress and their staffs the importance of reducing the Postal Service’s unfair retiree health liability as the essential first step in postal restoration.
In early December, NAPS Chat, the weekly podcast sponsored by NAPS, hosted Bill McAllister, Washington correspondent for Linn’s Stamp News. Before his current position, McAllister covered the Postal Service as a Washington Post news reporter and editor for almost 25 years. On the podcast, available on the NAPS website and podcast platforms (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, etc.), we discussed how presidential decisions influence the operational and financial trajectory of the Postal Service and can play a role in postal restoration.
We recalled how, in early 1993, outgoing President George H.W. Bush threatened to fire all nine members of the Postal Board of Governors over its decision to raise postage by 1 cent. (The 1993 Board actually went to U.S. federal court to clarify presidential authority over postal decisions.) We also spoke about the pressure leveraged on the agency by former President Donald Trump relating to package pricing and treatment of the 2020 election absentee ballots.
Most importantly, we spoke about the contrasting characteristics that Trump and President Joe Biden sought in nominees to the Board of Governors, as well as their respective relationships with the current postmaster general. At your convenience, please listen to the Dec. 3 episode of NAPS Chat. It is entertaining and informative.
As you may recall, in my previous columns and at the 2021 NAPS National Convention, I mused that President Biden’s eventual decision about the two Board of Governors openings would inform us about his views on the agency and its immediate future.
He could have renominated Ron Bloom to the board and left Ron Barger in place for at least another year. Both have been supportive of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and his policies.
Instead, Biden nominated two individuals with extensive government backgrounds to replace Bloom and Barger. Daniel Tangherlini served as administrator of the General Services Administration and chief financial officer at Department of the Treasury under President Obama. He also served in the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Transportation in the Clinton Administration.
Derek Kan served as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and as an under secretary at the Department of Transportation under President Trump. He also served on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s leadership staff.
McAllister and I agreed that President Biden’s nominees appear to reflect a pivot away from political operatives and individuals grounded in the financial service industry to individuals with broad government experience who are familiar with the Postal Service. Clearly, President Biden’s three previous nominees reflected this outlook.
Interestingly, at the same time the nominations were forwarded to the Senate for confirmation consideration, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in response to a reporter’s question, suggested that President Biden had “continued concerns about the postmaster general’s leadership.” How this view plays out with a potentially newly constituted Board of Governors will be consequential.
Notwithstanding the press secretary’s comments, DeJoy’s near-term evaluation by the American public, Congress and the Board of Governors most likely will be influenced by an early 2022 assessment of postal performance during the 2021 peak holiday mailing season. It is noteworthy that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, from November 2020 to November 2021, the postal workforce grew by 4,700 positions to prepare for peak season.
All this being said, NAPS members need to focus on the legislative aspect of postal restoration. A key part of that effort is coming to Washington for the 2022 LTS, contributing to the Supervisors’ Political Action Committee (SPAC) and remaining legislatively engaged.