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Suddenly, Congress, with the help of the Biden administration, appears interested in saving the United States Postal Service, despite the rate hike announced on Friday.
The bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act, sponsored by Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan and Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, has 10 Republican co-sponsors and is likely to pass.
This would solve some of the fundamental financial problems that have plagued the post office for years. The most important provision would eliminate a single, unrealistic and unsustainable requirement that the post office pre-fund retiree health care 75 years in advance. That alone would save $ 46 billion over the next decade. Instead, the service’s 500,000 employees would sign up for Medicare when they turn 65.
Recognizing that first-class mail is on the decline due to online competition, the bill would also strengthen the USPS ‘competitiveness for lucrative parcel delivery services – alone and as a “last mile” provider. For large private services such as USPS and FedEx, which long ago recognized that the USPS already delivers to every address in America six days a week.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has nominated candidates to fill three vacant positions on the USPS Board of Governors. Even if the board doesn’t vote on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who wants sweeping service cuts, he’s likely to tone down that plan, especially if Congress passes the Senate reform bill.
The USPS still has a myriad of problems due to the wide range of its required services and the decline of its first class mail monopoly. But it remains crucial for trade and many other aspects of national and community life. Congress must ensure its survival and a better future for it.