Congress would eliminate burdensome budget requirements that have contributed to the Postal Service’s deep debt. It would also require the Postal Service to continue delivering mail six times per week, as required by bipartisan legislation approved by the House Tuesday.
would also require that the Postal Service display online how efficient it delivers mail to communities. This bill comes at a time when is experiencing widespread complaints about slow mail service.
Although the Postal Service is supposed be able to support itself through postage sales and other services it provides, it has been suffering losses for 14 consecutive years. This is due to rising worker’s compensation and benefits costs, as well as steady declines in mail volume. It also delivers to approximately 1 million more locations each year.
Officials from the Postal Service have stated that it will run out of cash without Congress’ approval by 2024. This is a warning frequented by the service. It estimates that it will lose $160 trillion over the next decade.
These pressures have brought together the parties to support a measure that will help the Postal Service, its workers, businesses that use them, and disgruntled citizens who rely upon it for delivery of prescription drug, checks, and other packages. Tuesday’s vote was 342-92. This is a rare example of bipartisanship, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting it.
Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of House Oversight and Reform Committee said that the Postal Service provides service to all Americans, regardless of where they live. This binds us together in a manner no other organization can.
The Postal Service is “truly a prized national asset,” but the “days of letters alone driving Postal Service revenues are not returning,” stated Rep. James Comer, a top Republican on this committee. He stated that the bill would “help it succeed in the 21st Century.”
Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said that he expected his chamber to “move fast” on the measure. With strong Democratic support, the bill appears on track to win the 60 votes that most bills require for Senate passage. It has 14 GOP sponsors.
Some lawmakers wanted to make it harder for the Postal Service to deliver faster services, while others favored privatizing certain services. The compromise does not include controversial proposals.
Over the years, there has been talk of reducing delivery times to five days per semaine, which would save over $1 billion annually according to the Government Accountability Office. This accounting agency is part of Congress. This idea proved to be politically poisonous and was not pursued.
The bill also requires the Postal Service set up an online “dashboard”, which can be searched by zip code and show how long it takes for packages or letters to arrive.
The measure is supported and supported by President Joe Biden, Postal Service, unions of postal workers, and other industries that use the service.
Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General, stated that the bill would “provide the American people the delivery service they deserve and expect.”
In an interview, Mark Dimondstein, president and CEO of the American Postal Workers Union called the bill “outstanding”.
Rep. Darrell Issa (Republican from California), was one of the few critics of the bill. He said that its changes weren’t sufficient. He claimed that the bill erases debts that will eventually be transferred to taxpayers.
He said, “It has failed in making a profit. It has failed the American people. And everyone who has mailboxes knows it.”
The bill would eliminate a requirement that the Postal Service fund in advance health care benefits for retired and current workers for the next 75 year. This obligation, which is not imposed on private companies or federal agencies, was first imposed in 2006. This was the year when the Postal Service’s mail volume reached its highest point and its financial position steadily deteriorated.
Since 2012, the Postal Service has not made these payments. According to its most recent annual reports, it has $63 billion in unpaid obligations. Much of this debt is forgiven by the bill.
Instead of these obligations, the Postal Service would cover current retirees’ actual healthcare costs that aren’t covered by Medicare, which is the federal insurance program for seniors.
Future Postal Service retirees would be required to enroll in Medicare under the legislation. Currently, only 3 out 4 of them do. This shift would help the Postal Service save money as Medicare will pay a large portion of its costs.
Proponents claim that eliminating the pre-funding for retiree health care as well as the changes in worker’s health care coverage will save tens to billions of dollars over a decade.
The Postal Service was criticized by the most in 2020, when President Donald Trump appoint DeJoy to be his postmaster general. Democrats accused him of slowing down service in order to undermine the election. DeJoy is a major GOP donor and has proposed a 10-year plan for stabilizing the service’s finances. This includes additional mail slowdowns, cutting down on office hours, and possibly higher rates.
According to ShipMatrix which analyzes shipping data, the Postal Service delivered 97% of all shipments within two weeks of December 2021. More than a third (33%) of first-class mail arrived late on Christmas Day 2020, according to ShipMatrix.
In 2006, the Postal Service reached its highest mail volume when it sent 213 billion letters. According to Postal Service figures, that number was 129 billion last year.
The Postal Service does not count as part of the federal budget because it has its own finances. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill will save the government $1B over the next ten years.
This is because Medicare prescription drug costs for retirees would be covered by the required discounts offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers.