House panel approves Postal Service finances legislation

House panel approves Postal Service finances legislation
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The House Oversight Committee on Thursday approved two bipartisan bills aimed at putting the U.S. Postal Service on better financial footing.

The committee passed the bills by voice vote.

One of the bills makes a number of changes to the Postal Service, which has faced financial challenges in recent years.

The bill would automatically enroll eligible USPS retirees in Medicare, make reforms to the Postal Service's governance, bolster the use of centralized delivery, allow the USPS to increase postal rates by 1 cent for a first-class stamp and  to provide nonpostal services to state and local governments.

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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praised the bipartisan nature of the bill and noted that they had been working on Postal reform legislation for several years.

"At least from my opinion, we have a very good bill," Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzFive memorable moments from Hillary Clinton’s newest book Clinton says she mistook Chaffetz for Priebus at Trump's inauguration Curtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz MORE (R-Utah) said. "Each of us would like to see things done a little bit differently, but in the nature and the spirit of compromise, I think what we have before us today is a very solid bill."

The top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), said that "this is a bill of compromise ... not common ground, but higher ground, putting party aside and making sure that we would do what's best not only for the Postal system but for the nation."

"And hopefully when all the dust settles on this bill, people will look back and say this is the way Congress should operate," Cummings added.

The bill has the backing of a number of stakeholders, including postal worker unions, FedEx, Amazon and Verizon. But several free-market groups have opposed the measure and argue that it could end up making the problems facing the USPS worse.

The Oversight Committee also approved a bill that would authorize the Treasury Department to diversify the investment strategy for the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund. This bill also has the support of several stakeholder groups.