They approve plan to reform the Postal Service
Legislation aimed at beefing up the nation’s Postal Service and ensuring mail delivery six days a week passed Congress on Tuesday, sending the initiative to President Joe Biden to sign it into law.
Long-fought postal reform is years in the making and comes amid widespread complaints about slowing mail service. Many Americans became dependent on the Postal Service during the COVID-19 crisis, but officials have repeatedly warned that without congressional action, it will run out of funds by 2024.
“The post office usually does deliveries for us, but today we’re going to do deliveries for them,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
To that end, Congress mustered rare bipartisan support for the Postal Service package, scrapping some of the most controversial proposals, to establish basic ways to save the service and ensure its future operations.
Last month, the House passed the bill, 342-92, with all Democrats and most Republicans voting in favor. On Tuesday the 8th, the Senate sent it to Biden’s desk with a vote of 79 in favor and only 19 against.
Republican Sen. Jerry Moran said the Postal Service has been in a “death spiral” that is particularly harsh on rural Americans, including in his home state of Kansas, as post offices have closed and services have been cut. “Smart reforms are needed,” he said.
The Postal Service Reform Act would eliminate unusual budget requirements that have contributed to the Postal Service’s red ink and establish by law a requirement that mail be delivered six days a week, except for federal holidays, natural disasters And some others.
Sales of mail and other services were supposed to support the Postal Service, but it has suffered 14 straight years of losses.
Rising costs for workers’ compensation and benefits, plus steady declines in mail volume, have contributed to red ink, even as the Postal Service delivers to an additional million locations each year.
The bill ends the requirement that the Postal Service prefund workers’ health care benefits for the next 75 years, an obligation that private companies and federal agencies do not face.
Instead, the Postal Service would require future retirees to enroll in Medicare and would pay actual health care costs for current retirees not covered by the federal senior health insurance program.
For the time being, ideas of reducing mail delivery, which had become politically destructive, have been scrapped. Also set aside for now are other proposals that have emerged over the years to change postal operations, including those to privatize some services.
“We need to save our Postal Service,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, one of the bill’s chief architects. Portman said the bill is not a bailout and the agency will not receive new funding.