Of all the tasks confronting the newly elected Congress, none is more basic, in terms of plain old democratic governance, than reforming the U.S. Postal Service…The good news is that years of discussion have yielded significant bipartisan agreement about what needs to be done. In the Senate, Democrat Tom Carper (Del.) and Republican Tom Coburn (Okla.) gained the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s approval this year for a plan that would grant the USPS billions of dollars in relief from the retiree health prepayments in return for changes such as incentives to eliminate costly Saturday mail delivery and to increase use of more cost-effective curbside multi-residence mailboxes.
How to protect large and vulnerable private-sector networks? Not all the answers can be found in government, but on actions that do require legislation, this session of Congress and the one before it have come to an impasse. It is time for the lame-duck session, or the new one convening in January, to take the bipartisan path forward that a number of legislators have laid out.
The nation relies on federal funding to build and maintain the roads, bridges, rails and other transportation infrastructure that Americans use every day. For the sake of the economy — and for the sanity of drivers, riders, bikers and even walkers — that federal contribution must be healthy and reliable. Instead, the last time Congress seriously bolstered transportation funding revenue, Bill Clinton had just been inaugurated — for the first time.That streak could change, however, as an impending revenue shortfall forces lawmakers to revisit transportation funding between now and next May. There are at least two bipartisan options already on the table that, if acted upon, would break Congress’s recent habit of resorting to short-term gimmicks where the country needs long-term solutions.
Energy is among the most polarizing issues in Washington, dividing coal-staters from environmentalists and often stranding pragmatists in between. But Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote a bill that avoids every major policy landmine, basing their proposal on the unassailable principle that the country should waste less energy.
The latest partisan flare-up only accentuates the necessity of a focus on objectives that might actually be achievable. Our series has dealt not with lofty hypotheses about what the two parties might be able to do if only they could break through to higher ground. Rather, we emphasized the underappreciated fact that Republicans and Democrats have already agreed on many elements of reform legislation in non-glamorous but crucial areas: housing finance, trade policy, corporate taxation, postal service, cybersecurity, transportation infrastructure and energy efficiency. In each case, we argued that it was plausible to think that the next Congress could finish the job that the current one had started.