My colleagues like to tease me, joking about “Mr. Ruppel Goes to Washington,” when I head off to our nation’s capital for various postal meetings. That’s especially true when my travels involve meetings with IWCO Direct’s Congressional representatives to discuss the urgency and shape of postal reform legislation, as they have this week.
I can assure you that I have very little in common with Jimmy Stewart, although having these conversations with our representatives always leaves me a bit awe-struck. After spending Monday on Capitol Hill, I attended PostalVision 2020 with an amazing group of postal stakeholders and scholars. The meeting focused on what is needed in a postal system to best meet the needs of the United States in the 21st Century.
With facilities in two states and four Congressional districts, IWCO Direct is represented by senators and representatives with views across the political spectrum. And while the conversations with each office were different, all the people we talked to were engaged in this issue. They were aware of the urgent need for legislation to provide financial stability for the postal service and eager for more information about how to do this legislation right.
The first “big” postal bill this year is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE). Almost all of my conversations included a question about when we thought the bill would be introduced and what we thought it would contain. While we still can’t offer specific answers to those questions, Sen. Carper did spend an hour with those of us at PostalVision sharing his thoughts on shaping a new bill. I have been impressed with the approach the senator has taken in creating this legislation.
He has actively engaged his Republican counterpart on the Senate committee, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). He also reached out to House Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), involving them in hearings and engaging them in conversations as he prepares to present this important bill. (At the PostalVision meeting he described himself as a “recovering governor,” and as such, believed in “governing from the middle” in order to get things done.) He said his goal was to develop common core principles that are shared across parties and houses of Congress to use as the basis for the bill.
Sen. Carper told the group it is his intent to introduce a bill next month. He said last year’s Senate postal reform bill would be a “road map” for what will be included in this year’s bill, but he intends to fine tune and augment that effort. His goal is to have a bill through both Senate and House and on the President’s desk before the July 4 recess. If he doesn’t attain that, he wants to have it to the President before the August recess.
While consensus in the audience was that this is a very aggressive schedule that doesn’t allow time to reach agreement on a fully comprehensive bill, many in the group were hopeful that Sen. Carper would be successful in passing meaningful legislation that would buy time for a more comprehensive bill in the future. The really good news is that it appears we have begun the conversation that will allow us to understand what the United States really needs in a postal system and how we might achieve that. More than continuing discussion, what we need to achieve meaningful postal reform is action. As one of the conference participants observed, “Now that you understand, what are you going to do about it?”
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