Senate passes postal reform bill
The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to reform the Postal Service, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk.
Senators voted 79-19 on the legislation, which makes financial and operational reforms to the U.S. Postal Service. The bill passed the House earlier this year.
“This bill, which has been 15 years in the making, will finally help the Postal Service overcome burdensome requirements that threaten their ability to provide reliable service to the American people,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), the top Republican on the committee, said that the bill, combined with a Postal Service 10-year plan, will “help turn around the substantial losses at the Postal Service over the last decade and ensure self-sustaining, high-quality postal service for all Americans.”
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.
The bill would get rid of an existing requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits, which lawmakers had pinpointed as a significant financial burden for the agency. It would also establish transparency and delivery standards and require that mail be delivered six days a week.
Despite there being wide bipartisan support for the legislation in the Senate, it got delayed for weeks.
The Senate had initially been expected to take up the bill in mid-February. But Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), who chairs the Senate GOP campaign arm, blocked the Senate from making a clerical correction after the House initially sent them the wrong version of the bill.
“Unfortunately there are pieces of this bill that blocks the opportunity for us to achieve our shared goal of responsibly reforming the Postal Service. … I want the Senate to have the opportunity to work on this and improve it and deliver a bill that works,” Scott said at the time, noting that he supported some provisions in the bill.
Scott and Sen. James Risch (Idaho), the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, also urged Schumer to delay the bill in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This bill does not fix the underlying issues with the Postal Service, nor does it make it profitable. This bill does not reduce the cost to the Federal government, but instead reduces the cost to the Postal Service and shifts that increased cost to Medicare beneficiaries,” they wrote in the letter.