McHugh bill may be DOA

Time may be running out for H.R. 22 – also known as the Postal Modernization Act – which Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) has been pushing for nearly five years to reform the U.S. Postal Service. An alternative bill proposed in mid-July by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and an amendment to H.R. 22 that was expected to be filed at press time by Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) could hinder McHugh’s chances of getting his bill passed in this Congress.

Both the Waxman bill and the LaTourette amendment exclude H.R. 22’s most controversial provision, which allows the USPS to form a private company to run competitive services such as parcel delivery. “Waxman’s bill was set up as the Democratic alternative because nobody expects Democratic support for H.R. 22,” says Advertising Mail Marketing Association president Gene Del Polito. “The big question is whether there will be enough Republican support for LaTourette’s amendment or if the House Government Reform Committee’s postal subcommittee will stick with the existing H.R. 22.”

Del Polito points out that “time’s running out. At this point, there’s still no scheduled markup for H.R. 22, and it’s highly unlikely a markup will occur before the Labor Day recess.” After that, he notes, “the legislative calendar is very tight for the rest of this year,” and there wouldn’t be enough time for a vote.

Furthermore, it’s unlikely that a postal bill will get enough attention to distract Congress from the presidential election next year, Del Polito says. And because the USPS is going to end its fiscal year in September with a surplus, there are probably not too many congressmen concerned with the health of the agency, he notes.