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Huffman Calls on USPS to Halt Vehicle Procurement Contract

Letter Urges Pause Until New Board Nominees are Seated, Contract Reviewed

March 29, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors requesting they halt the 10-year contract to produce up to 165,000 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) until the contract can be reviewed and the three vacancies on the Board of Governors are filled. 

“With so many questions and concerns surrounding the NGDV contract, with critical legislation pending, and with a new board majority on the horizon, pausing the process until President Biden’s nominees are confirmed is both necessary and appropriate. These matters, in addition to the overall leadership of Postmaster General DeJoy, must be appropriately reviewed before USPS proceeds with what we believe would be a colossal mistake,” the members wrote in the letter.

Earlier this month, Rep. Huffman reintroduced his Postal Vehicle Modernization Act, which would provide the USPS with the $6 billion needed to electrify the postal fleet. Following the introduction, Huffman joined Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and co-Chair of the House Auto Caucus, in a House Resolution calling on the Biden administration to halt the USPS-Oshkosh contract until an investigation can be conducted.

In addition to Rep. Huffman, this letter was signed by Representatives Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Mike Levin (CA-49), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Mark Takano (CA-41), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), and Peter Welch (VT).

The full letter can be viewed here or below:

Board of Governors

U.S. Postal Service

475 L’Enfant Plaza SW Washington, D.C., 20260

Dear Board of Governors:

Recently, the United States Postal Service awarded a 10-year contract to produce up to 165,000 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV). We are dismayed to learn from testimony by Postmaster General DeJoy at the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that this contract would currently produce only 10% electric vehicles. Moreover, we are informed that even the 10% target is highly questionable – it has been reported that the contract awardee has not tested an EV prototype, and recently warned investors that it lacked expertise and experience manufacturing electric vehicles.

As you know, President Biden has set a goal of electrifying 100% of our nation’s public vehicle fleets with American-made EVs, including the postal fleet. His Executive Order on January 27, 2021 directed the heads of all relevant federal agencies to assist and support the National Climate Advisor on fleet electrification plans within 90 days. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has not only shown no sign of supporting the council, he has flouted President Biden’s directive by awarding the contract for at least 90% internal combustion vehicles on February 23, 2021.

Meanwhile, major private delivery fleets – including FEDEX, UPS and Amazon, among others – are aggressively transitioning their fleets to clean, safe, reliable, and cost-effective EVs. With private sector fleets moving in this direction, and with General Motors and other leading vehicle manufacturers announcing plans to phase-out internal combustion vehicles by 2035, Postmaster DeJoy’s plan for America’s largest civilian fleet is more than just an outlier.

Squandering this once-in-a-generation opportunity by spending billions of dollars on vehicles that will be custom built for obsolescence – indeed, by the end of their operating lives they will be the last internal combustion fleet vehicles on the road – and defying President Biden’s Executive Order is utterly unacceptable.

We therefore request that you immediately pause implementation of this contract until President Biden’s nominees for the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors are seated, and until a full review of the NGDV contract – including its environmental, fiscal and policy implications, and the circumstances under which it was awarded – can be completed.

The Postal Service has suggested that a primary obstacle to electrifying the postal fleet is funding, and Congress is ready to work with the Postal Service to resolve that obstacle. Last Congress, in H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, the House authorized an additional $6 billion for USPS if at least 75% of their new fleet are zero emission vehicles and to install EV charging infrastructure at every publicly accessible postal facility in America. In addition, it supports U.S. manufacturing jobs by requiring compliance with Buy American standards. This legislation was recently reintroduced with 18 original co-sponsors in the House, including the Chairs of key committees with jurisdiction over the Postal Service and the federal transportation system. Congress stands ready to work with the USPS in achieving President Biden’s goal of 100% electrification of its vehicle fleet.

As you know, President Biden has nominated three individuals to fill vacancies on the USPS Board of Governors: former deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman, former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union Anton Hajjar, and CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, Amber McReynolds. This is a diverse group of experts in their fields, and each is equipped to help tackle the multitude of challenges that USPS faces.

With so many questions and concerns surrounding the NGDV contract, with critical legislation pending, and with a new board majority on the horizon, pausing the process until President Biden’s nominees are confirmed is both necessary and appropriate. These matters, in addition to the overall leadership of Postmaster General DeJoy, must be appropriately reviewed before USPS proceeds with what we believe would be a colossal mistake.

Sincerely, 

[Members of Congress]

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