Portman Expresses Optimism about Postal Service Future at Hearing to Consider Postal Service Nominees

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, expressed optimism about the future of the Postal Service at a hearing to consider pending nominations of Derek Kan and Daniel Tangherlini to serve as Governors of the United States Postal Service. 

Portman highlighted the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act that he led with Chairman Peters (D-MI) which will set the United States Postal Service on a more sustainable financial footing and support long-term reliable service across the country. The bill – which has now passed both the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support – will make the first major reforms to the Postal Service in more than 15 years. 

An excerpt of his opening statement can be found below and a video can be found here.

“I want to thank my friend Derek Kan, for his willingness to step forward and serve. And Mr. Tangherlini, I don’t know you yet, but I hear good things about you from the other side of the aisle. So we’re delighted that both of you are willing to take on what is a really important task right now. Governor of the United States Postal Service, it’s always an important job, but particularly important right now in the wake of our passing this legislation to help provide some breathing room, really, for the Postal Service. But that’s all it provides. It requires you all to make significant reforms. Should you be confirmed, you’re going to be in the middle of this. And I trust from knowing Derek and hearing about you, Mr. Tangherlini, that you guys are willing to take it on and make some tough decisions.  It’s a little like the board of directors of a private company, but different. And it’s different in the sense that you have an additional responsibility, which is unlike private sector directors. You’ve got to, ‘Represent the public interest generally.’ That’s a pretty broad mandate. The decisions you make are going to affect everybody, really, every family in America, every business in America. The governors set or approve the rates of mail and packaged products. As you know, they also select the Postmaster General and oversee the performance of the PMG. And, of course, you determine the overarching strategy for the Postal Service as a whole. 

“So it’s very important and one that we take very seriously here on this Committee, particularly now that we’re also invested in making this Postal Service work, dealing with the serious and unsustainable financial situation that you’re currently in. There have been a lot of challenges that have been driven by the fact that there’s just a lot less First-Class Mail. So people are using their iPhones more than your postal stamps to send mail between friends and relatives. And that’s a huge challenge. On the other hand, Postal Service picked up a lot of packages, which is an opportunity. You’ve also struggled with poor service, particularly during the pandemic and particularly during the 2020 holiday season, where all of us heard a lot from our constituents about that. I will say there are some improvements in service around the country that we are seeing. But just last month, the Postal Service Inspector General reported delayed mail and improper parcel scanning in the audits of three postal facilities in the Columbus, Ohio area. 

“So the Postal Service is not out of the woods yet. We still got service issues we’ve got to address. In addition to, again, the financial crisis that we would otherwise face unless reforms are made. Veterans, the elderly, rural residents in particular, really depend on the Postal Service to deliver lifesaving medications. We have no excuse absentee voting in Ohio. So we are very dependent on the Postal Service to ensure our election system works properly. It’s a good system that’s worked well. But if the vote doesn’t reach the election office in time, the election officials are handicapped and people’s votes are not counted, so nothing could be more important. In Ohio, a lot of small businesses use the Post Office; they still use that as their means to communicate with their customers. 

“So I have concerns but also I think there’s a reason for optimism because you do have, as you saw in the vote 79 to 19 here with the Postal Service Reform Act, a lot of bipartisan support for the Postal Service and for the mission of the Postal Service because it matters to every one of our constituents. I do think, as I said, this act is just the first step. 

“I think the current Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy’s ambitious ten year plan to transform the Post Office by finding more efficiencies and generating additional revenue from existing products is a step forward. I hope you will, if you are confirmed, be supportive of moving forward with an aggressive plan as I said earlier, making tough decisions, some of which may not be popular. But we’ve got to make sure the Postal Service is back on its feet providing good service and able to survive over the long haul financially. There’s no doubt that this is a challenging road ahead but I think by thoughtfully engaging on these issues and working with all the stakeholders, committed leaders at the Postal Service can address the challenges and ensure a burden brighter future for the Postal Service. 

“So we look forward to working with you if you are confirmed closely to help to ensure that this happens and again, thanks to you for your willingness to serve and we look forward to the dialogue this morning.”