Once again, there’s so much happening with the U.S. Postal Service that it seems simplest to package (no pun intended) the latest developments together. Here goes:
1) In that rare bit of news that doesn’t revolve around the mail carrier’s cratering finances, the Postal Service today announced that it’s changed a long-standing policy so living people can be depicted on postage stamps. Under the previous guidelines, an individual had to be dead for at least five years to be so honored; starting next year, Americans “will see acclaimed musicians, sports stars, writers, artists and nationally-known figures” on stamps while they’re still with us, according to a USPS news release.
Postal officials are inviting members of the public to submit the top five living individuals they would like to see on stamps via Facebook and Twitter. People can also actually use a stamp to write the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, Room 3300, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20260-3501. And before anyone rushes to nominate their grandkids (or even a favorite mail carrier), keep in mind that the advisory committee is looking for folks “who have made extraordinary contributions to American society and culture,” according to the official guidelines.
2) Back to grim realities: The Postal Service’s four unions are wrapping up preparations for tomorrow’s nationwide “Save America’s Postal Service” day, which will feature rallies in all 435 congressional districts from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. local times. The chief goal is to build public and political support for legislation by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., that could open the door for the Postal Service to take advantage of tens of billions of dollars in pension overpayments identified by an outside actuary and the agency’s inspector general. The bill already has 215 co-sponsors, including some Republicans, but has so far gone nowhere in the House, where other GOP lawmakers dispute whether any such overpayments occurred.
3) On Friday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., jumped into the scrum on the other side by introducing a Senate version of a postal overhaul sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that was just approved last week by a House oversight subcommittee. McCain has a history of—at least every now and then—working successfully across party lines, but the debate preceding that subcommittee vote showed just how deep partisan divisions run on postal issues.
4) And, as federal agencies undergo another bout of shutdown jitters, let’s not forget that the Postal Service has a stake in the latest Capitol Hill showdown. Under the continuing resolution that would keep agencies operating past the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year, the deadline for the Postal Service to make a $5.5 billion retiree health care prepayment would also be pushed back from Sept. 30 to Nov. 18. If lawmakers don’t pass the CR by Friday, the Postal Service is headed for an embarrassing default, according to repeated warnings from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.