By MARK GRUENBERG, PAI Union News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House has approved HR 3076, a postal reform bill that would end the $5 billion yearly prepayment of future retirees’ health care costs. A GOP-run Congress imposed that prepayment requirement in 2006. USPS’s annual financial statement shows the prepayment is responsible for 84% of USPS losses since 2007 and 100% of losses from 2013-2018. Without it, postal profits would have totaled $4 billion.
Postal unions, led by the Letter Carriers, the Postal Workers and the Mail Handlers, have marshaled members and allies for at least a decade to lobby for an end to the prepayment while seeking more revenue sources to bolster the nation’s universal mail service.
Those could range from notary public services to shipping wine and beer to reviving postal banking, which ended in the 1960s. Doing so would bring basic bank services to the 29% of U.S. people without access to a bank branch. The bill, HR3076, endorses getting USPS into such alternatives, if they don’t hamper the mail. It doesn’t list specific ideas.
The House vote was lopsided and bipartisan: 342-92. The GOP backed the bill after Democrats agreed to drop a rollback of slower delivery standards implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee.
Besides ending the health care prepayment, HR3076 “adopts private sector best practice by maximizing integration of postal employees and retirees into Medicare.” That will start in 2025.
It also codifies into law the mandate to provide six-day mail delivery to all Americans.