Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Who Will Lead Postal Reform in the House?

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), the incoming Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has recently announced the creation of three subcommittees in the next Congress and their chairman.  They are as follows:
  • National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) - This subcommittee appears to have a similar jurisdiction to the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee.  This appointment moves Congressman Chaffetz, who was ranking member of the subcommittee handling the Postal Service, from primary responsibility for developing postal legislation
  • Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending, Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) - This subcommittee appears to have a very broad mandate covering government regulations across both executive departments and independent regulatory agencies.  It is possible that this subcommittee could have some interest in the impact that the Postal Regulatory Commission has on the American economy.
  • TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs, Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) This subcommittee will likely to focus on oversight of agencies dealing with the financial services industry and other industries in which the Federal Government has or will propose to make investment and ensure that both government and private enterprises are held accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars. To the extent that adjustments to the Postal Service retiree benefit calculations are perceived as a "bailout" this subcommittee could take charge of this issue and for that matter any legislation designed to change the business model of the Postal Service.

It is always possible that the Postal Service will continue to fall under a catch-all subcommittee as it did this year that includes the District of Columbia and the Federal Workforce.  However, with the shift of Congressman Chaffetz to national security oversight, the other two Republicans that remain in Congress are unlikely to chair a subcommittee dealing with Postal legislation.  Congressman Bill Shuster  is in line to chair the House Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials where he will likely have to deal with railroad regulatory issues) and Congressman Brian Bilbray will not even be on the Committee in the next Congress.

The Washington Post notes that that the other five returning Congressman who will be assigned to the full committee already have Committee or subcommittee chairmanships lined up.  The Post indicated that responsibility could fall upon one of the freshman who will serve on the committee who has not been given a subcommittee chairmanship elsewhere.   They are: Justin Amash(Mich.), Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.), Blake Farenholt (Texas), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), Mike Kelly (Pa.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), James Lankford (Okla.), Dennis Ross(Fla.), Tim Walberg (Mich.), and Joe Walsh (Ill.). 

Whether Congressman Issa chooses to put the Postal Service under one of the subcommittees he has already created or in a new subcommittee chaired by a freshman member of Congress is not known at this time.  His choice could have a big impact on how the House of Representatives frames legislative changes in the next Congress.

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