Legislative Agenda: 2015, The Year of Reform?
Possible Outcomes: New faces abound. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) takes the helm of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from term-limited Darrell Issa (R-CA). Chaffetz has been a vocal and engaged supporter of postal issues during his six years in Congress and has pledged to make reform one of the priorities of his committee going forward.
On the Senate side, Ron Johnson (R-WI) takes the helm of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee from Carper. Johnson, despite coming from a state renowned for both paper and print manufacturing, does not stand in support of the graphic arts industry. Yet his liberal counterpart, Baldwin, is on board with the mailing industry. Go figure.
Ramifications of Inaction: The Carper-Coburn bill was so problematic—particularly in the area of its rate-setting structure—that no action, in this case, was better than reform legislation. But this ongoing drama has an expiration date. Something will happen by 2017, as the last reform legislation called for a review of the rate setting process after 10 years. If Congress doesn't act, the review will fall to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
Analysis: The mailing industry and the postal unions came together to support an alternative piece of legislation, and that could well represent a jumping off point in 2015. There are many new faces on board, including new Postmaster General Megan Brennan. Sen. Johnson will be a tough nut to crack, as he supported the Coburn bill, so the lobby has its work cut out for it. Chaffetz has already said, on the record, that he wants to get something done with postal reform.
Will postal reform actually happen in 2015? Lyons points out there are alternatives to Carper-Coburn that are "written and ready to go." Thus, don't let the multitude of new players on the landscape lead you to the conclusion that postal reform is restarting from square one. And no longer does Congress seem content on waiting until the U.S. Postal Service's situation reaches the critical level, when a crisis management solution is required.