By DON McINTOSH
Postal unions are celebrating the conclusion of a 12-year campaign to pass legislation restoring the health of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In a broadly bipartisan 79-19 vote, the U.S. Senate passed the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 (H.R. 3076) March 8. That followed the House’s 342-92 passage on Feb. 8. The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Above all, the bill restores financial stability by ending a requirement that USPS “pre-fund” retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. No other public or private employer faces such a requirement, and it has been crippling postal finances since Congress imposed it in 2006. That $5 billion annual obligation has been the driving force in postal rate increases and service cuts in recent years. H.R. 3076 also:
Requires Medicare-eligible postal employees and retirees to enroll in Medicare.
Permanently requires the Postal Service to deliver mail at least six days a week (a response to a move by the Postal Board of Governors to consider cutting Saturday delivery.)
Requires USPS to create an online dashboard to display national and local level service performance data.
Allows USPS to form strategic partnerships with state, local, and tribal governments to provide non-postal, noncommercial services (the bill doesn’t specify what these services would be, but they could include things like hunting and fishing licenses.)
Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, called passage of HR 3076 a “monumental victory.”
The bill was supported by both U.S. Senators and all five U.S. Representatives from Oregon. Both Washington senators and nine of its 10 U.S. representatives also voted for it. [Spokane Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers was the lone “no” vote.]