LORDSTOWN — A trio of Democratic lawmakers is urging President Joe Biden to halt a U.S. Postal Service truck contract to review whether inappropriate political influence was involved with its award.
The lawmakers also want to determine whether the contract is consistent with Biden’s call to electrify the federal government’s fleet of vehicles, made in an executive order soon into his presidency.
It was last week Postmaster Louis DeJoy announced Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense won the contract worth up to $6 billion, besting two other finalists in doing so, including Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group, a stakeholder in Lordstown Motors Corp.
U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan of Howland and Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, wrote Biden asking him to review the award that, according to a news release, “stands in stark contrast” with his executive order.
DeJoy has told a House committee the new postal truck fleet would be 10 percent electric under the 10-year contract with Oshkosh to manufacture the next-generation truck. The vehicles would be equipped with electric powertrains or fuel-efficient internal combustion engines, according to the postal service.
The agreement calls for Oshkosh to assemble 50,000 to 165,000 of the trucks over the next decade.
What troubles the three, in part, is the lack of commitment to making the vehicles either hybrid or fully electric, they wrote.
“Furthermore, this contract is not only an investment in American workers and our domestic manufacturing sector, but it is an opportunity for our nation to regain its role as a leader in clean technology manufacturing,” the letter states. “This contract will have consequences for decades to come and, as such, we have serious concerns it could be a wasted opportunity to address the climate crisis and the reindustrialization of our manufacturing sector.”
Ryan, Kaptur and Brown also raise concern with DeJoy’s record and policies they say have slowed mail delivery for Ohioans and made it more difficult for postal workers to do their jobs. They say this announcement “only further calls into question his ability to lead the USPS,” the release states.
Workhorse is a minority partner with Lordstown Motors, which is using some of Workhorse’s intellectual property in the Endurance, Lordstown Motors’ battery-powered pickup truck expected to launch in September.
Lordstown Motors’ factory in Lordstown, the former General Motors assembly plant, was likely the site to make the postal service vehicles had Workhorse been given the contract. The company’s business plan, however, was never reliant on Workhorse getting the contract.
If Workhorse had been successful, “we would have loved to have been a part of the production team,” said Lordstown Motors spokesman Ryan Hallett, but the focus has always been on the Endurance, for which there have been more than 100,000 non-binding reservations.