House passes bill to reform Postal Service operations
The House on Tuesday passed bipartisan legislation that would make long-sought financial and operational reforms to the U.S. Postal Service, which has struggled with pandemic-induced mail delivery delays.
Lawmakers passed the bill 342-92, with 120 Republicans joining all Democrats in support.
A bipartisan agreement to overhaul the Postal Service had long eluded lawmakers, until last year when House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and the panel’s top Republican, Rep. James Comer (Ky.), unveiled the proposal the House passed on Tuesday.
“Today’s historic bipartisan vote brings us one step closer to finally putting the Postal Service on a sound financial footing so it can continue serving all Americans for years to come,” Maloney said.
The Postal Service has operated at a net annual loss for more than a decade and is currently projected to run out of funds for its operations by 2024. Its increasingly worsened financial viability was largely due to declining mail volume, the costs of employee compensation and unfunded liabilities and debt.
The legislation would help the Postal Service save money by eliminating the existing requirement to pre-fund retiree health benefits, which is projected to save around $27 billion over a decade, and requiring future Postal Service retirees to enroll in Medicare, which could save about $23 billion.
It would establish new service performance transparency and delivery standards for the Postal Service, which experienced significant backlogs in 2020 after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy implemented changes and the COVID-19 pandemic led to increased demand for mailed packages.
Americans have come to further rely on the Postal Service during the pandemic after the Biden administration rolled out a program last month for all households to order free COVID-19 tests mailed to their homes.
The reforms in the legislation would include requiring the Postal Service to deliver both mail and packages at least six days per week. The agency would also have to develop a public online dashboard with service performance data updated on a weekly basis, as well as provide semiannual reports to Congress on the implementation of its strategic plan.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has introduced a companion bill in the upper chamber that has 14 GOP sponsors, more than the minimum of 10 Republicans needed to break a filibuster.
“Given the significant, bipartisan support for the same bill in the Senate, I expect to move quickly to vote on these critical reforms that will help ensure the Postal Service’s long-term success,” Peters said in a statement following the House vote.
President Biden has signaled he will sign the bill into law. The Biden administration said in a statement it “supports efforts to strengthen the United States Postal Service, including by providing Postal employees with the dignity, fair pay, and employer-provided benefits they have earned.”
DeJoy also supports the bill. He called it “long overdue” during a Postal Service Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday.
Democrats have clashed with DeJoy, a GOP megadonor who assumed his role under former President Trump, over his cost-cutting measures in 2020 that included reducing post office hours and eliminating overtime for mail carriers. DeJoy ultimately delayed the changes until after the 2020 election in response to critics’ concerns that delivery of election ballots cast by mail — which were in increased demand due to the pandemic — could be delayed.