Senate to consider Postal Service Reform Act of 2021; includes sampling language

The Senate now has its version of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021, thanks to the leadership of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.  S. 1720 was introduced by HSGAC Chair Gary Peters, D-Michigan, and Ranking Member Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and 18 other co-sponsors.

The bill is a mirror version of HR 3076 that cleared the House Oversight and Reform Committee earlier this month.  It would provide financial relief to the U.S. Postal Service by reforming retiree health benefit funds and also set up new public reporting requirements on mail service on-time delivery.  The bill contains a provision championed by National Newspaper Association that would allow community newspapers to increase the use of sample copies to recruit new readers.

NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, said NNA was heartened by the strong bipartisan demonstration of support.

“For the first time in a decade, we have a realistic hope of support from Congress for universal mail delivery,” Wesner said. “This bill would correct a problem created in 2006 when Congress unrealistically expected USPS to set aside billions of dollars for future retiree benefits and would use Medicare benefits that mailers have supported through postage payments to make sure retirees are on the most cost-effective health care program.  For community newspapers, the opportunity to regain subscribers that we have lost through service disruptions over the past few years will be a welcome indicator from the Postal Service and Congress that newspapers in the mail are important to American civic life and literacy.”

Neither bill contains limitations on postage rate increases, to the disappointment of the mailing industry.  The Postal Regulatory Commission has given USPS authority to impose substantial postage increases this year.

“We hope that reform of the onerous employee benefits obligations will remove a substantial amount of the pressure on postal finances,” Wesner said. “One aspect of the anticipated postage increases was to cover retiree health costs. Once Congress comes up with a more rational payment system for those costs, we expect both USPS and the PRC to recognize a need to dial back the plans for big postage increases.”

The House bill is awaiting action by Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the Medicare program, and Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees transportation aspects of postal legislation.
Wesner said he looked forward to quick action in the Senate to send its bill to the floor and clearance for floor action in the House before the Congressional July recess.

Neither Kentucky Senator — Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul — signed on as a co-sponsor. See the Friday, May 14 On Second Thought at members.kypress.com for a story on the House version and the co-sponsorship by Kentucky’s District 1 Congressman James Comer.

Senators co-sponsoring S1720:

Sen. Portman, Rob [R-OH]*

Sen. Carper, Thomas R. [D-DE]*

Sen. Burr, Richard [R-NC]*

Sen. Hassan, Margaret Wood [D-NH]*

Sen. Tillis, Thom [R-NC]*

Sen. Sinema, Kyrsten [D-AZ]*

Sen. Capito, Shelley Moore [R-WV]*

Sen. Rosen, Jacky [D-NV]*

Sen. Daines, Steve [R-MT]*

Sen. Padilla, Alex [D-CA]*

Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME]*

Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR]*

Sen. Sullivan, Dan [R-AK]*

Sen. Manchin, Joe, III [D-WV]*

Sen. Hawley, Josh [R-MO]*

Sen. Schatz, Brian [D-HI]*

Sen. Blunt, Roy [R-MO]*

Sen. Rounds, Mike [R-SD]*

Sen. Smith, Tina [D-MN]*

 

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