House Republicans’ plan to overhaul the Postal Service gained momentum today when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
The bill would let an independent committee seize control of the Postal Service’s finances and labor contracts if the agency were more than 30 days late in paying its bills. A second committee would decide which postal facilities to close.
“This bill will take politics out of the process and allow the Postal Service to right-size its operations,” McCain said in a statement.
“This is the only postal reform legislation to be introduced in both the House and the Senate,” House sponsor Dennis Ross, (R-Fla.), said in a press release. “The time for talk is over. We need to act now.”
Ross is the chairman a subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service. It approved the legislation Wednesday, sending it to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for consideration.
At the subcommittee markup, Democrats warned that the legislation could make vulnerable the hundreds of thousands of postal workers now protected by union contracts.
McCain joins an increasingly crowded field of lawmakers who have sponsored measures to help the agency, including Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). President Barack Obama outlined his Postal Service plan Monday.
The Postal Service says it will not make a $5.5 billion payment to the Treasury next week because it is short of cash. Increased online competition and the sluggish economy have hurt first-class mail and contributed to the agency’s record losses this year.
Officials want Congress to enact laws giving them more control over their operations so they can make changes to their network and delivery schedule.