Many are heralding the passage of bipartisan postal reform, which locks in 6-day mail delivery, among other provisions. It’s debatable whether or not the bill is too little, but one thing is certain – it’s late – 10 years late, according to the Postmaster General.
The Postal Service estimated $160 billion in losses over the next 10 years without passage of the bill and said the single biggest driver of these losses was congressionally mandated costs for retiree health benefits.
The Postal Service Reform Act eliminates the retiree health benefit prefunding requirement, and it integrates retiree health benefit program with Medicare. The Washington Post said the USPS has defaulted on those healthcare payments since 2011.
“Tuesday’s bill gives the agency a significant reprieve, removing $57 billion in past-due postal liabilities and eliminating $50 billion in payments over the next 10 years,” the Post reported. “It requires future postal retirees to enroll in Medicare, a move that would add minuscule costs to the public health-care system but would save taxpayers $1.5 billion over the next decade.”
The American Postal Workers Union applauded passage of the bill, tweeting: “BREAKING: WE WON! After a campaign by the APWU & allied unions, the U.S. Senate has passed the Postal Service Reform Act, ending the disastrous 75-year pre-funding mandate which has been artificially bankrupting the Postal Service for decades.”
The Package Coalition, of which Amazon and other retailers are members, also applauded passage of the bill. In a press release on Tuesday, it said, “Breaking apart the Postal Service network would have destroyed the agency’s package business, harming the millions of Americans who rely on the Postal Service for affordable package delivery and only benefiting private carriers like UPS.”
According to Government Executive, Democrats had initially included a provision to restrict USPS from altering its service standards (DeJoy has slowed down delivery for some mail as part of his 10-year plan), but they removed it in negotiations with Republicans in order to pass the bill.
Passage of the bill was a big win for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, but it’s not the end of his battles. The Washington Post’s Jacob Bogage tweeted that he was expecting a new bill to be introduced on Wednesday that would blow up DeJoy’s contract for gas-powered mail trucks to replace the Postal Service’s aging fleet. With gas prices surging in the US due to the war in Ukraine, it’s looking like a questionable decision and one that the current administration opposed.
Regardless, the reform bill approved by the Senate on March 8 and by the House on February 8 now heads to the White House to be signed into law by President Biden.
Updated 3/9/2022 to include information from Government Executive about a provision that didn’t make it into the bill.