Minus a Quorum, Postal Governors Assume Emergency Powers

The four current members of the Postal Board of Governors, which includes Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, published a notice in the Federal Register today announcing they had adopted a resolution to exercise special powers ceded to them in the absence of a quorum. The nine-member body’s majority position lapsed on December 8, when Board Chairman Mickey D. Barnett had not yet been approved by the U.S. Senate.

The remaining members now comprise a Temoporary Emergency Committee of Governors, as opposed to a board, that will make decisions to provide for the continuity of operations of the Postal Service. The resolution was adopted on the Postal Service’s busiest week of the year.

In making this move, the governors called upon a federal statute that authorizes the powers of the board to be delegated to a committee of governors or the Postmaster General. The statute, according to the notice filed by attorney Stanley F. Mires, grants governors powers including the removal of the Postmaster General and the establishment of prices for postal products.

Besides Donahoe and Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman, the sitting members of the board are Vice Chairman James H. Bilbray, Louis J. Giuliano, and Ellen C. Williams. Awaiting Senate approval in addition to Barnett are Michael Bennett, Stephen Crawford, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and James C. Miller.

On November 13, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tom Carper (D-DE) urged his Senate colleagues to approve the nominees in the current lame duck session. “If we don’t confirm Mr. Barnett and his colleagues by December 8, Mr. Barnett–currently the board’s chairman–would be forced the leave the Board,” Carper said. “If that happens, the board will no longer have enough members to achieve a quorum and won’t be able to conduct business. At a time when the Postal Service is struggling to address a number of financial challenges and to adapt to the digital age, this would be an avoidable disaster.”

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