Republicans Strike Rep. Kaptur’s Postal Service Improvement Provision
July 7, 2016
House Floor Maneuver Blocks Kaptur’s Effort to Restore Tough Delivery and Service Standards
WASHINGTON, DC — The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), today blocked a provision authored by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) that had been incorporated last month into the House Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services and General Government funding measure for fiscal year 2017, which begins on October 1, 2016. The measure was stripped from the funding bill on a procedural move after Chairman Chaffetz raised a ‘point of order,’ and not on the merits of the Kaptur provision. Rep. Chaffetz’s challenge was upheld by an almost completely partisan House vote of 220 to 168; one lone Republican voted for keeping the provision in the funding measure.
The Kaptur provision would have required the United States Postal Service (USPS) to restore the tougher standards for delivery service that the USPS abandoned in 2012. The provision was included by voice vote to the annual funding bill for a wide range of federal agencies, including the United States Postal Service, or USPS.
Kaptur’s provision would reverse the 2012 decision by the USPS management to lower its service delivery standards for First Class mail and periodicals.
“This is a setback for restoring improved mail delivery,” said Kaptur, a senior member of the House Appropriations panel. “Postal management’s decision to close 83 regional sorting facilities backfired, causing needless delays in first class mail and magazines, for example, and costing more through unanticipated increases in transportation, gasoline and delivery truck maintenance costs.”
USPS management has conceded that its decision in January 2015 to close regional sorting facilities not only slowed the mail but actually lost the agency money – exceeding savings by $66 million in 2015. This is because the plan to close plants and slow the mail has cost an additional $130 million in transportation costs.
Sadly, delayed mail has become our new reality. However, that is not the promise made to the American people. State and local officials, small businesses and Members of Congress continue to hear from the public about the abysmal state of late mail. Medical prescriptions, graduation gifts, bill payments and notices, wedding and meeting invitations are all arriving late – in spite of being mailed extra early.
Since the standards were lowered by postal service management, timely processing and delivery of mail has been delayed. According to an August 2015 finding by the USPS’ own Inspector General, “the amount of mail that failed to meet delivery targets in the first six months of 2015 increased 48 percent over the same period in 2014 – despite the new, more relaxed standards.”
The timely processing and delivery of mail is critical. USPS delivers 154 billion pieces of mail annually to 155 million delivery points, accounting for 47 percent of the world’s mail. This equals more than 20 times the volume of the total business for UPS and FedEx, the two giant private delivery firms.
Such additional transportation expenses are evident in the Toledo area, where outbound mail sorting was transferred from a local Toledo facility to three separate facilities located near Detroit, Michigan in July 2013. Mail intended for the Toledo area was also shifted in April 2015, but to Detroit.
Rep. Kaptur’s language adopted by the full Appropriations Committee was simple and direct: “Provided further, That the Postal Service shall maintain and comply with service standards for First Class Mail and periodicals effective on July 1, 2012’’.
Congressional support for reversing USPS cuts in service standards is strong. To date, 233 House members – Republicans and Democrats – have cosponsored H.Res. 54, to require the Postal Service to “take all appropriate measures to restore service standards in effect as of July 1, 2012.”
Rep. Kaptur is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.