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Senators expected to announce deal on US Postal Service reform: report

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A bipartisan group of senators is expected to introduce a bill Wednesday that would target financial burdens on the U.S. Postal Service and increase accountability requirements.

The Washington Post reports the group is being led by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The bill would repeal $5 billion a year in mandatory retiree health care expenses, the Post reports, and require future retirees to enroll in Medicare. The bill would also create a public online performance dashboard that would allow customers to see the Postal Service’s on-time delivery metric by ZIP code.

The change in health care requirements would purportedly save the Postal Service $30 billion over the next 10 years.

The bill has enough bipartisan support to pass, the Post reports, citing sources involved in the legislation negotiations.

The bill will likely affect Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s proposed 10-year plan of increasing postage prices, creating longer delivery windows and reducing post office hours. The Post notes that an important part of DeJoy’s plan hinged on congressional intervention on retiree health care costs.

Some officials have argued that these costs, which must be prepaid per the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, are the main reason why the agency cannot invest in new technology and equipment. However, the Post notes that the Postal Service has not made these payments since 2011 and they do not affect the agency’s liquidity.

Regardless of its financial situation, the agency’s problems may be beyond legislative action experts told the newspaper.

“Some things are beyond the realm of legislation to be able to deal with,” Postal Policy Associates consulting firm President Kenneth John told the Post.

“Letter mail volume is going to decline to the extent that prices increase more rather than less,” John, a former senior analyst at the Government Accountability Office, added. “That decline may accelerate somewhat, but it’s fundamentally a result of changing ways of communication and payment, and these are going to continue.”

Tags Gary Peters Gary Peters Louis DeJoy Louis DeJoy Postal system Rob Portman Rob Portman The Washington Post United States Postal Service United States Postal Service crisis

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