There is common ground between President Trump and leading House Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee on an important but somewhat obscure issue: the Postal Regulatory Commission has demonstrated it should receive $19.2 million in funding for fiscal year 2021.
In fact, the $19.2 million will not come directly from taxpayers. Rather, the funds will be provided by the Postal Service, from its operations, to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
The mission of the PRC is to hold the Postal Service accountable to its customers, the American people. The PRC reviews the Postal Service’s proposed rates to see if they are justified and makes sure the Postal Service complies with the letter and spirit of U.S. laws.
That has seldom been more important than now. Since being placed on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s high-risk list of government agencies in 2009, the Postal Service’s finances have deteriorated to the point where it will be likely out of cash sometime in fiscal year 2021.
Congress should do the heavy lifting of comprehensive reform over the next 12 months. Until then, the role of the Postal Service’s regulators – its Board of Governors, Office of Inspector General and the Postal Regulatory Commission – are more important than ever.
President Trump requested $19.2 million for the PRC for fiscal year 2021. In an April 14 letter to senior members of the House Committee on Appropriations, the two most senior Democrats in the House on postal issues – Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Carolyn Maloney and Government Operations Subcommittee chair Gerry Connolly – strongly endorsed the $19.2 million request.
Their letter to senior members of the House Appropriations Committee said, “The PRC carries out its essential work of ensuring transparency and accountability of the Postal Service with a very small budget and staff. Its current appropriation is roughly 1/50th of 1 percent of the Postal Service’s expenses. Though it is part of the annual appropriation process, the PRC’s budget comes solely from the off-budget, permanently appropriated Postal Service Fund.”
The PRC’s budget increase would be $2.6 million above its fiscal year 2020 budget. Given the state of the Postal Service and that the PRC’s budget was essentially frozen for close to a decade, the $19.2 million is an extremely reasonable and necessary request.
About the Author: Paul Steidler is a Senior Fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.
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