Darrell Issa: Okay, new plan for fixing the Post Office

Back in 2011, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa introduced a bill to seriously reform the ailing United States Postal Service — a move to which postal-worker unions and their Democratic allies in both the House and Senate were most vociferously unreceptive, and they effort ended up going nowhere. That was a darn shame, because the USPS’s obsolete business model is currently bleeding about $25 million a day, and while opponents of reform have always been quick to point out that the mail delivery service doesn’t operate off of taxpayer dollars, they have been steadily defaulting on repayments to their exhausted line of credit at the U.S. Treasury while exploding pension costs and mounting debt could eventually incur a bailout.

The relevant Democrats have shut down more subsequent attempts to do at least some cost-cutting with measures like closing hundreds of post offices and ending Saturday mail delivery, never mind that some of these are reforms that the Postal Service itself actually wants, but Rep. Issa is trying again with a more relaxed bill that makes a few more concessions in their direction. The Hill explains:

Issa’s new draft discussion updates his 2011 postal reform legislation, and comes as lawmakers from both parties and both chambers meet to try to solidify the Postal Service’s finances. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has urged Congress to act for years, with the agency having lost some $19 billion in the last year-and-a-half.

In an attempt to broaden support for his postal efforts, Issa scraps or reworks some of the more controversial provisions in his previous bill, which passed the Oversight panel but was slammed as too partisan by Democrats. …

The new Issa plan also dramatically reworks a provision — firmly opposed by Democrats and postal brass — that would have essentially placed the service into receivership if it defaulted on its bills for more than a month.

Under the new plan, a team of five executives would replace the Postal Service’s part-time board until the USPS is back in the black and has a plan to fully support its current and future retirees.

Issa would also allow the USPS to immediately scrap six-day letter delivery, while keeping Saturday delivery of packages for at least five years. Donahoe had tried to put a similar plan in place this year, only to pull back after taking heat from Capitol Hill.

There’s still plenty in the bill to which unions/Democrats are bound to vehemently object (one “anti-labor” provision, for instance, that would do away the USPS’s no-layoffs policy is almost certainly not going to go over well, as you might imagine), but Issa’s bill does contain several major compromises and is at least reopening the conversation instead of letting it languish in the current stalemate. The USPS cannot and will not survive in its current form, and Republicans are looking to actually get some things done; will the unions budge?