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President Biden on Wednesday signed into law legislation reforming the U.S. Postal Service in a bid to increase transparency and stabilize the financial footing of what he called an essential agency.

Biden listed off the critical functions of the Postal Service at a bill signing ceremony in the State Dining Room, which was packed with dozens of mostly maskless guests. He noted mail carriers help deliver prescription drugs, bill payments for small businesses and the votes of millions of Americans.

“This bill recognizes the Postal Service as a public service and we’re ensuring that it can continue to serve all Americans for generations to come,” Biden said.

Attendees for Wednesday’s event included Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who authored the Senate legislation.

The bill, which passed the Senate last month and the House in February with bipartisan majorities, eliminates an existing requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits, which lawmakers had pinpointed as a significant financial burden for the agency.

The legislation also establishes transparency and delivery standards and requires that mail be delivered six days a week.

“You’ll be able to see in real time how well the Postal Service is delivering for you and for your community,” Biden said.

The Postal Service has operated at a net annual loss for more than a ​decade. Post office officials have previously warned that without reforms it could run out of cash for operations by 2024.

“Of course, there are more areas where we want to see the Postal Service leading,” Biden said, specifically citing the need to modernize and electrify its fleet of vehicles.

The agency came under intense scrutiny in 2020 as mail-in voting became a preferred method of casting a ballot for millions of Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in particular was a target of outrage for lawmakers who accused the Trump administration of slowing down mail processing and causing delays in sending and receiving ballots.  

White House officials, including press secretary Jen Psaki, said last year the Postal Service “needs leadership that can and will do a better job.”

Biden last year put forward three nominees to fill existing vacancies on the nine-person USPS board of governors. DeJoy has remained at the helm despite speculation the board, which consists of a majority of members appointed by Democrats, could oust him.

DeJoy was spotted at Wednesday’s event chatting with lawmakers and other guests but was not seen interacting with Biden.  

Biden mingled with guests at length after signing the legislation, posing for pictures with lawmakers like Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).  

— Morgan Chalfant contributed.

Tags Biden Charles Schumer Coronavirus Gary Peters James Clyburn Joe Biden Joe Biden Louis DeJoy Louis DeJoy Nancy Pelosi Postal reform Rob Portman Thom Tillis U.S. Postal Service
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