Issa bill would end Saturday mail to repeal military pension cut

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A top House Republican has proposed legislation that would  replace the controversial new cut in pension benefits for working-age military retirees by allowing the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced the bill Thursday, saying his plan would trim the federal deficit by about $17 billion over 10 years.

The proposal is likely to draw criticism from postal-worker groups, such as the National Association of Letter Carriers, which has strongly opposed plans to end six-day mail delivery as a means of achieving savings for the financially troubled Postal Service.

(AP Photo/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group, Mark Bugnaski)
(AP Photo/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group, Mark Bugnaski)

The union has argued that the USPS, which reported a loss of $5 billion last year, would have posted a profit in 2013 if not for a congressional mandate requiring the agency to pre-fund retirement benefits for future retirees.

Issa has long been a proponent of ending six-day mail delivery, along with other proposed changes for the Postal Service. “This common sense reform will help restore the cash-strapped Postal Service to long-term solvency,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

The chairman is hardly alone in asking for a repeal of the pension cut, which trims one percentage point off the annual cost-of-living increase for working-age military retirees as part of the budget deal that Congress and the president approved last month. The change is projected to save an estimated $6 billion over 10 years.

Lawmakers have lined up with legislation to replace the pension cut with savings in other areas after the measure triggered a major backlash from veterans, military groups and many lawmakers, including those who voted for the overall budget.

MORE: Younger military veterans are angered by budget cuts to their pension benefits

MORE: Congress could reconsider military pension cut in January

Among the other repeal bills:

* Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced legislation last month that would achieve equivalent savings through increased efforts to reduce fraudulent claims for child tax credits.

* Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) proposed a bill that would end “a tax loophole for offshore corporations” instead of trimming pension payments.

* Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.) introduced legislation that bring about similar savings by ending payments to Egypt and Pakistan, along with selling mineral rights on federal lands, among other measures.

* Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) floated a bill that would simply repeal the pension cut without finding equivalent savings.

The movement to end the pension cut is gaining momentum, and lawmakers have no shortage of options for stopping it. The question is whether they can agree on a single plan.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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