Is Bernie Sanders Holding Back the Postal Board of Governors?

A story that appeared on the Linn’s Stamp website yesterday asserted that presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had “single-handedly forced the U.S. Postal Service board of governors out of business,” according to unnamed sources.

Sanders apparently placed holds on two of President Barack Obama’s appointments to the board, allowing it to shrink to a single presidential appointee in December  when the extended terms of Governers Louis Giuliano and Ellen Williams expire. The board is empowered to sit nine members, and five nominees were put forth last year but not approved by Congress.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan and Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman sit on the board, but may not cast votes on such key issues as rate changes. Yesterday’s story said Sanders had implored Brennan to end organizational changes that had slowed the delivery of mail.

Yet last December, the board of governors called upon a federal statute to establish a temporary emergency committee with special powers to make decisions in the absence of a quorum. For the time being, then, Linn’s Stamp’s implication that the board sits powerless is not entirely correct.

“There is an urgent need for the Senate to approve the nominees to return the board of governors to a statutory quorum, especially as additional terms expire,” said Postal Service spokesman Dave Partenheimer in reaction to the story. “However, it’s important to remember that the board can and does continue to meet and make decisions as the temporary emergency committee.”

The five nominees put forth include former board of governors Chairman Mickey Barnett along with Stephen Crawford, James C. Miller, Michael Bennett, and David Shapira. Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), was replaced on the list by Shapira after declining to pursue the office after nominations were blocked.

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