November 11, 2020
The Biden Administration has named a transition team for the USPS and the PRC. Two of the four members are very familiar: former Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman and National Association of Letter Carriers Chief of Staff Jim Sauber. The Postal Service differs from most of the other agencies in that a new Administration does not take over with its political appointees. The transition team will, however, shape how the new Administration approaches the very real and immediate need to reform USPS.
We are hopeful that with the election mail dust settled, the new Administration will work with Congress on a set of comprehensive reforms. Both Stroman and Sauber were critical of the DeJoy-led Postal Service this summer and both have long supported legislative reform packages and the PRC ten-year rate review that rely on large rate increases to be paid by mailers.
The primary way a President influences the Postal Service is through his nominations of Governors who serve for seven-year terms. The Governors in turn hire and fire the Postmaster General. The current slate of Governors includes four Republicans and two Democrats, plus three vacancies. President Biden will have the opportunity to nominate three new Governors as soon as he chooses after taking office on January 21. He will have to work with the Senate to receive confirmation of his nominees.
If the Senate remains in Republican control, there is hope that President Biden’s longstanding working relationship with majority leader Mitch McConnell will enable cooperative deal-making. Two run-off elections for the Georgia Senate seats on January 5 could flip Senate control to the Democrats.
We strongly believe, and recently expressed in a Roll Call op-ed, How to fix the US Postal Service, that the USPS budget cannot be balanced on the backs of mailers. The operating structure of USPS precludes it from behaving entirely like a business. As a 100-percent federal government agency, it performs many public service tasks that are vitally important to our nation and would not be taken on by any private sector business.
Prior to the 1980s, the government had a consistent practice of annually providing funding for the public service portion of the Postal Service. We believe government funding combined with mailers’ payments must be the backbone of comprehensive reform of USPS that will not only balance the budget but also ensure that or national treasure continues to provide the services we all depend on. We also strongly believe, and have documented in filings with the PRC, that there are large opportunities to capture greater cost efficiencies and new revenues in the current Postal Service.