Some members of Congress want to stamp ‘return to sender’ on the recently awarded multi-billion-dollar contract to replace the US fleet of postal delivery vehicles.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and a dozen other Democrats sent a letter March 29 to the US Postal Service Board of Governors requesting they halt the 10-year contract with Oshkosh Defense 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,” the members wrote in the letter. “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.”
Broadly, resistance to the contract comes from supporters of electric vehicles. Oshkosh Defense has committed to building EVs to provide jut 10% of the order—although the NDGV are to be designed for full EV conversion down the road. The letter notes, however, that “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.”
This comes as the Biden administration has set a goal of electrifying 100% of the nation’s public vehicle fleets with American-made EVs, including the postal fleet. Biden’s recently introduced $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $174 billion in EV investment.
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 (D-Va.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).
The full letter can be viewed here.