In the latest effort to restore the U.S. Postal Service to financial health, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced legislation that would save it $46 billion over the next 10 years.
The Postal Service Reform Act of 2021 would eliminate the requirement under a 2006 law that USPS pre-fund more than $120 billion in retiree healthcare and pension liabilities. In 2019, one Oregon Democrat called it an “unfair” mandate that is “responsible for more than 90 percent of USPS’s financial losses and 100 percent of losses over the past six years.”
The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted unanimously to approve companion legislation last week.
As The New York Times reports, “Legislation to address the Postal Service’s dire finances has languished in Congress for years. But with enough Republican support to pass the Senate, the announcement of the bill … is an unexpected indication of bipartisan compromise in a divided Congress.”
“This commonsense, bipartisan legislation would help put the Postal Service on a sustainable financial footing,” said Sen. Gary Peters, Michigan Democrat, who chairs the committee that oversees USPS.
The Postal Reform bill is a modified version of the USPS Fairness Act, which was introduced by Democrats in February. It would also shift more postal retirees to Medicare for their health care.
A USPS spokesman said the agency was “encouraged” by the introduction of bipartisan and bicameral legislation. “This will be a major step forward for financial sustainability of the Postal Service,” David Partenheimer said.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy endorsed the earlier bill, saying its core components were essential to eliminating projected losses over the next decade as part of his 10-year business plan. Under DeJoy’s plan, the pre-funding mandate would also be eliminated.
USPS, which is supposed to be self-sustaining, has lost $87 billion in the past 14 fiscal years and is projected to lose another $9.7 billion in fiscal 2021.