This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold its 2nd hearing on “scandals” at the Internal Revenue Service. These two hearings along with a third hearing held by the full committee on the Bengazi have provided the Committee significant visibility that the hard work required to create a postal reform bill that can pass would not.
For postal stakeholders, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s focus on scandals that other House committees are also investigating must be particularly frustrating. Members of Congress and Congressional committee staff have a finite amount of time and focusing on issues that generate the greatest press coverage and interest from Republican partisans sucks oxygen away from legislative efforts that are much less likely to put a politician on a cable news channel or Sunday talk show.
While the Committee’s focus on scandals could be blamed on a politician’s interest in gaining a place in the rotation of interviewees on television, a Washington Post story, entitled “House Republicans Broken Into Fighting Factions,” suggests that the focus on scandals may reflect the inability of House Republicans to advance legislation that can become law without expanding the rift within the Republican caucus.
The Washington Post article focuses on budget, tax and debt ceiling legislation. However, similar problems exist for postal reform. In the last Congress it was clear that postal reform legislation could have passed the House but would have split the Republican caucus in such a way that only a minority of House Republicans would have supported the postal reform legislation that passed the chamber. In this Congress, the prospect of a split Republican caucus probably discourages a serious effort to develop postal reform legislation and makes spending time investigating White House “scandals” the more rewarding use of time.