A resumption of direct government control over the U.S. Postal Service and an end to the current goal of financial self-sufficiency for the nation's post offices by 1985 are key elements of legislation approved yesterday by two House subcommittees.
By a unanimous voice vote, the subcommittees on postal operations and services and postal personnel and modernization sent to the full Post Office and Civil Service Committee a bill that would dismantle, to a large extent, the quasi-independent Postal Service, established by Congress in 1970.
Despite opposition from the Carter administration and Postmaster General Benjamin F. Bailar, congressional sources expect the full House committee to approve the bill. It represents the culmination of five years of investigations into postal problems and financing.
Chairman Robert N.C. Nix (D-Pa.) has scheduled a vote on the postal reorganization legislation for Oct. 12. Depending on how long the House remains in session before a projected adjournment, a floor vote is possible this month, staff aides said yesterday.
Although there have been postal hearings on the Senate side, no legislative action is expected there this year. Some form of postal reorganization legislation is almost certain to pass Congress next year, however.
The subcommittee's legislation approved yesterday includes the following provisions.
Abolition of the Postal Service board of governors immediately after enactment. The governors act as a corporate act as a corporate board of directors, in effect setting post office policy. They are appointed by the President, but their decisions have been final and not subject to congressional review.
Presidential appointment of the Postmaster General with no term. Currently the chief executive of the postal service is elected by the board of governors. Carter also has proposed a resumption is presidential appointment statur - but for a term of six years, providing some insulation from political change.
Authorization for fiscal years 1979 and 1980 (two years, beginning Oct. 1, 1978) of a public service subsidy equal to 15 per cent of the previous year's operating expenses. That would amount to more than $2.5 billion in fiscal 1979 in addition to separate subsidies for publishing rates of $800 million - an increased outlay opposed vigorously within the administration. Currently, the annual postal public service subsidy is less than $1 billion.
Congressional veto over changes in postal rates or nationwide alterations in service, such as proposed shutdowns or rural post offices and elimination of mail delivery on Saturday's.
Principal sponsors of the legislation approved yesterday were the two subcommittee chairmen. Reps. James Hanley (D-N.Y.) and Charles H. Wilson (D-Calif.). They urged their colleagues to bring the postal service back under closer congressional and Executive Branch scrutiny.