White House Official Under Fire About USPS Privatization at Congressional Hearing

Posted by Bob Levi on 06/27/18
Earlier today, the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) came under fire by members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, regarding the White House proposal to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. The privatization plan was part of a report issued on June 21 by the Executive Office of the President entitled, "Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century."  Although OMB Deputy Director Margaret Weichert testified before the House committee on the entire report, a number of committee members zeroed in on President Trump's plan to privatize the Postal Service. 

At the outset of the hearing, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), explained to the OMB official that instead of working with Congress to improve the Postal Service, the Administration dismissed the two bipartisan bills pending in Congress (H.R. 6076 and S. 2629), one approved overwhelmingly by the committee before which she was testifying. Instead, the White House came to its own conclusions, without even waiting for its own Task Force on the Postal System to report its findings later this summer. Cummings concluded: "President Trump’s proposal to privatize the Postal Service is disorganized, unilateral, nonsensical, and frankly, incompetent."

In response to a question from Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Deputy Director Weichert declared that "privatization is a vision in all scenarios." In the near-term, the Administration seeks to stabilize finances in order to prepare for privatization. During questioning by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), with input from Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Weichert conceded that the she could not determine whether the White House took into account the unique 2006 statutory requirement for the USPS to pre-fund retiree health benefits, as part of its conclusion about the state of postal fiances and its proposal to privatize the agency.

The most damning line of questioning, however, was posed by Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) who hammered away as to why the Postal Service was not even asked to present a reorganization plan to the White House, while other federal agencies were granted such an opportunity. Weichert could not explain why the USPS was closed-out of the process. Lawrence also explained how it is Congress' constitutional responsibility to be a steward for the Postal Service. 

On Monday, UPMA conducted a webinar for all Chapter Legislative and Political Action Chairs on confronting the White House postal privatization proposal. It will be important for UPMA members to touch base with their chapter's Legislative Chair for more information and to communicate with the White House and members of Congress to express strong opposition to the plan.

The White House Switchboard number is 202-456-1414 and the Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121.