Senator Carper Gains Bipartisan Support For His Postal Reform Bill With Two Republicans & One Democrat
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced today that Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) have lent their support for his Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency Act of 2015 (iPOST), which he introduced in September. It remains to be seen whether this bipartisan support will propel the bill forward; however, its status is now improved since this is no longer a minority effort.
Highlights From the Bill
As the bill itself is unchanged, below is ACMA's description we posted in September.
Establishes a rate freeze through January 1, 2018.
Makes the current 4.3% exigency increase implemented in January 2014 a permanent part of the rate base.
Orders the Postal Regulatory Commission to establish a new rate system by January 1, 2018.
Eliminates the existing statutory payment schedule, cancels any outstanding payments, reduces the pre-funding goal to 80% of projected obligations, and amortizes payments over 40 years.
Gives the USPS the option to invest its amortization payments for up to 10 years in a more lucrative TSP-like account rather than low interest treasury bonds. At the end of 10 years, the investment income would first be used to pay any remaining retiree health liability, then debt. If those costs are resolved then the funding can be used for other postal costs such as investment in infrastructure.
Creates a new Postal Service Health Benefits Program (PSHBP) within FEHBP, implemented and administered by OPM, for all postal employees and annuitants and require all Medicare-eligible postal annuitants and employees enrolled in the PSHBP to also enroll in Medicare, including parts A, B and D. This is designed to protect American taxpayers from a future bailout and for protecting postal employees’ benefits in retirement.
Proposes a “pause” in USPS facility closings and consolidations for two years for mail processing plants and five years for post offices while implementing stronger performance enhancement provisions.
Allows the USPS to introduce new non-postal products and services, ship beer, wine and distilled spirits, and partner with state and local governments in offering government services.
Carper Comments on Bill's New Support
"My colleagues and I all agree that now is the time to act on comprehensive legislation that will stabilize and modernize the U.S. Postal Service....[The senators'] support will help make a great bill even stronger."
"We’ve also seen postal service quality across rural America decline as the USPS’ debts and future liabilities rise. Failure to make reforms now will cause the Postal Service’s financial crisis to worsen and increase the cost of any future fix. To protect taxpayers from the costs of a truly bankrupt postal service, Congress must act to put the agency on a path toward solvency. These reforms offer a serious policy framework to return the Postal Service to economic stability and preserve postal services across the country.”
“This bipartisan legislation will help modernize our mail system and more effectively serve the millions of rural folks in Missouri and across the country that rely on the postal service as a source of communications and commerce every day."
“This bill will help get the Postal Service on stable financial footing and modernize the post office."
The USPS owes $15 billion and faces tens of billions of dollars more in unfunded pension and health care obligations in the years to come. It ended fy 2015 with a net loss of $5.1 billion and now has a net deficit totaling more than $50 billion. For an institution that operates at the center of a $1 trillion industry that employs more than 7 million people, a financial outlook this bleak is alarming -- and shouldn’t be ignored. Without serious, long-term reform, the USPS is sure to take on more and more debt.
### About ACMA ACMA is a Washington-based not-for-profit organization specifically created to advocate for the unique collective interests of catalog mailers in regulatory, public and administrative matters where the shared impact transcends individual company interests. The only catalog owned and controlled trade group focused solely on the business interests of catalogers and their supply chain, ACMA participates in rule-making and other proceedings of significance where a single collective voice increases influence and effectiveness. Membership is open to any party with direct interests in the catalog industry. More information can be found at www.catalogmailers.org.