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Three U.S. lawmakers call on USPS to freeze Oshkosh vehicle contract

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three U.S. House lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday calling on the U.S. Postal Service to freeze Oshkosh Corp’s $482 million contract that would finalize production of the next-generation postal vehicles until the deal can be reviewed.

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) logo is pictured on a mail box in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Representative Marcy Kaptur, the chair of an appropriations subcommittee, and fellow Democrats Jared Huffman and Tim Ryan urged a halt pending an investigation into whether there was any political influence in awarding the contract and if it is consistent with President Joe Biden’s executive order to electrify the federal fleet.

Last month, the USPS rejected a bid from Ohio-based Workhorse Group for an all-electric delivery fleet. Oshkosh did not immediately comment. Workhorse, whose shares rose 5.5% on Tuesday, declined to comment.

Huffman separately introduced legislation on Monday cosponsored by 18 other House Democrats to provide $6 billion to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to buy tens of thousands of additional electric delivery vehicles and charging stations.

“Why would you put us back on that treadmill? You are going to have built these vehicles for obsolescence,” Huffman told Reuters on Tuesday. “They will be the last vehicles running on fossil fuels on the road. It’s insane.”

Huffman said he has been unable to view USPS’s contract with Oshkosh for the delivery vehicles.

Huffman’s bill would require at least 75% of the new fleet be electric or zero-emission vehicles.

Last month, the USPS said it was committed to having electric vehicles make up 10% of its next-generation fleet as part of its multibillion-dollar plan to retire its 30-year-old delivery vehicles. USPS said it could boost that percentage if it received billions of dollars in government assistance.

“With the right level of support, the majority of the Postal Service’s fleet can be electric by the end of the decade,” USPS said on Monday.

In January, Biden vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis