The Washington Post

How did postal reform fail last year?

Rep. Darrell Issa on Thursday proposed a bill to restructure the U.S. Postal Service, following up on an effort that stalled last year in the House.

Both chambers of Congress developed measures to overhaul the postal service in 2012, but only the Senate passed its version. The more-austere House bill never made its way to the floor for a vote.

Lawmakers that year delayed debate over the House bill until August, when Congress was consumed by large and time-consuming issues including the debt ceiling, tax rates and a farm bill.

(Joe Raedle - Getty Images) (Joe Raedle – Getty Images)

Some of the sticking points last year involved competing timetables for closing unprofitable post offices and ending Saturday mail delivery. The Senate version would have taken more time to phase in those actions.

The 2012 Senate bill would have ended Saturday mail within two years, only after giving USPS officials a chance to come up with cost-saving alternatives. It also provided $11 billion to offer buyouts and early-retirement incentives and revised the controversial mandate requiring the agency to pre-fund its retiree health benefits.

The House proposal would have allowed the postal service to stop Saturday mail delivery immediately. It also would have revised the pre-funding mandate, decreased the agency’s contributions to employee health- and life-insurance premiums and created a panel similar to the military’s base-closure commission to make decisions about shuttering facilities.

The postal service proposed ending Saturday mail delivery without congressional approval this year, but the agency ultimately backed down amid pressure from lawmakers.

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comE-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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