House Democratic leaders are lining up behind a White House push to allocate $8 billion in taxpayer funding for the latest iteration of mail truck, paving the way for a fully electric fleet instead of the piecemeal strategy U.S. Postal Service leaders have been pursuing.
The agency, which is generally self-sustaining and does not draw public money, has drawn up a bootstrap plan for new vehicles — the vast majority of which would run on gas — as it wrestles with $188.4 billion in liabilities and faces years of projected losses. The lawmakers’ plan would relieve the agency of the truck expense while significantly advancing one of President Biden’s key sustainability objectives.
Last week, the chairs of the House committees on Oversight and Reform and on Transportation urged members of the Democratic caucus to support the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle program, which would allow the agency to purchase as many as 165,000 trucks in the next decade. But the support would come with certain clean energy stipulations.
Party leaders had shown little enthusiasm for the program as outlined by the agency, which in February tapped Oshkosh Defense to build the trucks. But the postal plan, worth as much as $6 billion, called for only 10 percent of the vehicles to be electric — exasperating Democrats given the administration’s aims. The remaining trucks would have internal-combustion engines that could be retrofitted with electric drivetrains later in their life spans.
But Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had told lawmakers the agency couldn’t afford to make a bigger EV commitment — charging stations and other infrastructure would tack another $2 billion to the cost — or wait until it could. The agency’s aging fleet of Long Life Vehicles are barely getting by, and some have infamously burst into flames.
Committee chairs Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) of Oversight and Reform and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) of Transportation now want to provide the full $8 billion for electric trucks and EV infrastructure. Though the amount could get whittled down in negotiations with the Senate, momentum is building for the plan, according to a draft letter House Democrats plan to send Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. More than 50 Democrats have signed on. [Continue reading…]