Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform advanced H.R. 7674, the Ensuring Oversight Access to the Postal Service Act. The legislation, sponsored by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, aims to ensure proper oversight of the Postal Service by clarifying that Members of Congress may not be denied access to postal facilities for the official purpose of overseeing postal operations.
In October of 2020, Connolly requested a tour of the Merrifield Postal Distribution Center – one of the largest distribution centers in Northern Virginia. Postal Service officials denied him access to the facility, citing a false interpretation of the Hatch Act’s prohibition of political activities in federal agencies. The Postal Service claimed such action was approved by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). In actuality, OSC confirmed in a letter to Connolly and Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, “Members of Congress, who are candidates for partisan political office, are not barred from visiting Federal facilities to execute their official, oversight responsibilities to include receiving briefings, tours, or other official information. This position remains unchanged.”
The Ensuring Oversight Access to the Postal Service Act simply codifies OSC’s existing guidance and clarifies that the Postal Service may not prevent or otherwise inhibit any Member of Congress from accessing or visiting any facility for official purposes.
“As Chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee, I have a responsibility to oversee postal operations—which includes having access to postal facilities, managers, and employees,” said Connolly. “In the leadup to last year’s elections, our constituents, in every district, demanded no less. This responsibility does not cease merely because an election is approaching. Oversight is a fundamental responsibility of Congress. No agency shall tell the first branch of government where and when they conduct oversight.”
Full text of the legislation is available here.