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Senate committee holds hearing on renomination of Robert Taub for Postal Regulatory Commissioner

On Sept. 7, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) held a hearing to renominate Robert G. Taub to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), an independent agency that exercises regulatory oversight over the Postal Service.

The PRC currently has five commissioners, who are nominated by the president for six-year terms and confirmed by the Senate. Taub is a two-time appointee to the Commission following unanimous confirmations by the U.S. Senate in 2011 in 2016. His current term expired on Oct. 22, 2022, along with an additional seat currently held by Mark Acton. Both are in a “hold-over” year until Oct. 22, 2023. If confirmed, this will be Taub’s third term. He previously served as the chairman of the Commission from December 2014 until January 2021.

The PRC’s responsibilities include preventing anticompetitive practices, promoting accountability, adjudicating complaints, setting postal rates and helping oversee delivery service standards.

During the hearing, HSGAC Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) thanked Taub for his 40 years of public service and emphasized the importance of the PRC’s role in ensuring transparency and accountability in the United State Postal Service for the benefit of all Americans. Sen. Peters remarked that “robust oversight is especially important as the Postal Service continues to implement the Postal Service Reform Act passed last year and makes other plans that could impact Americans.”

In his testimony, Taub cited this role as the “key mission of why the Postal Regulatory Commission exists and was created,” and elaborated on how he intends to support the PRC’s efforts in meeting the challenges facing today’s Postal Service. He further pledged to work with all postal stakeholders in his role as commissioner.

Referencing the PRC’s inquiry into the Postal Service’s Delivering for America plan and its impact on costs, revenue, employees and customers, Taub expressed his position that “this is not a time of the Commission to think big thoughts or step back. We’ve got to be using our authorities—recognizing we’re the regulator, not the operator—to ensure the America public has transparency and accountability.”

In response to Sen. James Lankford’s (R-OK) questions about the financial challenges the Postal Services is navigating and how the increase in package handling could have a positive effect on revenue, Taub detailed how the Delivering for America plan seeks to accommodate package handling on a larger scale and the initial costs associated with that transformation.

Throughout the hearing, Republican and Democratic members of the Committee shared concerns affecting their constituents, such as suspended and closed post offices, mail delivery issues, and affordability and the responsiveness of the Postal Service to the issues in order to meet the demands of public interest. Taub recognized service oversight of the USPS as one of the most critical tasks and responsibilities of the PRC and referenced steps the PRC has taken to ensure the Postal Service complies with recommendations for corrective actions to meet service standards, including aspects of last year’s Postal Reform Act.

Taub’s testimony made it clear that he recognizes and takes seriously the responsibilities of the PRC in stabilizing mail delivery and modernizing the Postal Service to provide affordable, world-class service. As he stated in his opening remarks, “The fact is, for all the challenges the Postal Service faces, it still plays a vital role in our economy, our society and how Americans across this land communicate.” The renomination of Taub to the Commission will help ensure that the Delivering for America plan is executed efficiently and in a way that accomplishes its intended goals. To learn more about letter carriers’ involvement with the Delivering for America plan, see the August 2023 issue of The Postal Record.

The Committee is expected to advance Taub’s nomination next week, where he will await consideration by the full Senate. NALC encourages the Senate to swiftly advance Taub’s nomination. With regard to the other PRC seat being vacated by Acton, NALC will keep members apprised, as the White House is expected to announce a candidate to replace Mark Acton.