WASHINGTON - A group of 17 U.S. House of Representatives Democrats introduced legislation on Monday to provide $6 billion to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to buy tens of thousands of additional electric delivery vehicles. Ohio-based electric-vehicle maker Workhorse Group Inc shares jumped 13% on prospects the company may be able to sell electric postal vehicles. Last month, it lost out when the USPS awarded a $482 million contact to Oshkosh Defense to finalize production for the next-generation postal vehicles. The bill sponsored by Representative Jared Huffman and seen by Reuters would require at least 75% of the new fleet be electric or zero-emission vehicles. If Congress approves funding, there is no guarantee the USPS would agree to buy vehicles from Workhorse. 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. It said it could boost that percentage if it received billions of dollars in government assistance. "We welcome and are interested in any support from Congress that advances the goal of a Postal Service vehicle fleet with zero emissions, and the necessary infrastructure required to operate it," the USPS said on Monday. "With the right level of support, the majority of the Postal Service’s fleet can be electric by the end of the decade." The legislation is backed by some key Democrats, including Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Representative Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee that oversees USPS. The bill would also require no less than 50% of medium/heavy-duty vehicle purchases be electric or zero-emission through 2029 and all new USPS vehicles to be zero-emission after January 2040. Some lawmakers have talked about giving the Postal Service additional money to expand EV purchases as part of an infrastructure bill, but the prospects remain uncertain in Congress. In January, President Joe Biden vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models. Workhorse said it applauds "any efforts that support the Biden administration’s goal of expanding the government’s fleet of clean, non-combustion engine vehicles." Democratic Representative Tim Ryan separately wrote the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday asking about "reports of what might be unusual trading of Oshkosh stock" shortly before the contract was announced. Ryan and two other Ohio lawmakers including Senator Sherrod Brown wrote Biden last week urging the administration to "delay the contract until a thorough review is conducted." Oshkosh and the SEC did not immediately comment. REUTERS
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