A compromise bill to reform the U.S. Postal Service is gathering steam to move out of a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, where it has been sitting idle for 15 months.
The U.S. Senate passed a postal reform bill in April 2012, but the House never brought the measure out of its Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
But the chairman of the committee, Darrell Issa of California, said the committee will start processing the bill this week.
The bill is expected to reduce postal services on Saturdays and allow the postal service to advertise.
It would lessen the burdensome "prefunding" of health insurance for retirees -- a requirement that postal unions say is largely responsible for massive operating deficits.
In fiscal 2012, the total postal service loss amounted to $15.9 billion, with $5.5 billion of that spent to prepay, on an accelerated schedule, anticipated costs of health insurance for retirees.
The reform bill is also expected to authorize the postal service to sell advertising space on its vehicles and in its stores, and begin selling state and local permits, such as fishing and hunting licenses, to raise money.
Also, the bill would block the postal service from aggressively closing post offices in rural areas, an provision called for by Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska.
Also, the bill would allow the postal service to deliver wine and beer, lower the maximum pay for most USPS managers and cut back on employees through early retirement offers/buyouts.
Issa, a Republican, reportedly would like to give the postal service the authority to nullify existing collective bargaining agreements, a prospect that has drawn stout protests from postal worker's unions.
For a video of Rep. Adrian Smith testifying before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, see the lower right side of the Bulletin's front page.