Senators introduce bipartisan bill to overhaul U.S. Postal Service

May 21, 2021

On May 19, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill—the Postal Service Reform Act—intended to improve management of the troubled U.S. Postal Service, The Hill reports.

The move to “stabilize” the USPS is being led by Senators Gary Peters (D-Michigan); and  Rob Portman (R-Ohio)m both of the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee.

A total of nine Republicans signed on as co-sponsors. Adding their support, as well as Portman’s vote, to the Democrat vote of 50 members would secure passage of the legislation and head off a filibuster—making the new legislation the closest thing Congress has done to a postal overhaul in more than a decade, The Capitalist reports.

Specifically, The Washington Post has said, the bill would repeal $5 billion a year in mandatory retiree health care expenses, the Post reports, and require future retirees to enroll in Medicare. The bill would also create a public online performance dashboard that would allow customers to see the Postal Service’s on-time delivery metric by ZIP code.

The change in health care requirements would purportedly save the Postal Service $30 billion over the next ten years.

The bill will likely affect Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s proposed ten-year plan of increasing postage prices, creating longer delivery windows and reducing post office hours. The Post notes that an important part of DeJoy’s plan hinged on congressional intervention on retiree health care costs.

Some officials have argued that these costs, which must be prepaid per the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, are the main reason why the agency cannot invest in new technology and equipment. However, the Post notes that the Postal Service has not made these payments since 2011 and they do not affect the agency’s liquidity.

Regardless of its financial situation, the agency’s problems may be beyond legislative action experts told the newspaper.”Some things are beyond the realm of legislation to be able to deal with,” Postal Policy Associates consulting firm President Kenneth John told the Post.

“Letter mail volume is going to decline to the extent that prices increase more rather than less,” John, a former senior analyst at the Government Accountability Office, added. “That decline may accelerate somewhat, but it’s fundamentally a result of changing ways of communication and payment, and these are going to continue.”

Research contact: @thehill

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