Senate Hearing on USPS Task Force Report Postponed

A Senate hearing on a task force report recommending U.S. Postal Service reforms, scheduled for Sept. 5, has been postponed as President Donald Trump is delaying release of the report, according to Reuters.

The report was delivered to President Trump on Aug. 10. He has been hypercritical of Amazon’s relationship with the USPS, claiming it has received favored treatment and exacerbated the postal service’s fiscal woes, leading to formation of the task force this past spring. Trump has also had Twitter outbursts against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, a frequent administration critic.

The Sept. 5 hearing was to be before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. No new date has been set, pushing out any potential legislative action indefinitely.

“The task force will continue our work to identify solutions to strengthen the USPS business model driving toward a public report before the end of the year,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Treasury Department, which heads up the task force, told Reuters. “It is clear that the governance of USPS must be fixed and we encourage Congress to take actions towards that goal.”

Many observers fear the task force will recommend raising the USPS’s parcel shipping rates, which if enacted would lead to lost business as shippers divert volume to other carriers. A more extreme scenario would be privatization of the postal service. Parcel shipping has been the one bright spot for the USPS in recent years, growing at double-digit rates as mail volume declines and billions bleed out from pre-funded retiree healthcare benefits.

A group of interested parties including Amazon and the National Retail Federation formed a coalition to lobby on behalf of the USPS in reaction to the work of the task force. The Package Coalition also includes representation from Columbia Sportswear, Express Scripts, parcel shipping services firms OSM Worldwide and Pitney Bowes, Publishers Clearing House and QVC.

“Reliable and affordable postal package delivery is a key engine of the American economy,” said former Congressman John McHugh, chairman of the coalition, in a statement. “We support policy solutions to preserve this channel of commerce for all Americans, especially those in remote and rural areas that do not have consistently affordable alternatives to the Postal Service.”

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