A bipartisan group of 20 senators introduced legislation Wednesday to provide the struggling U.S. Postal Service with financial relief while tightening accountability for mail delivery.
The new measure would save the USPS $30 billion over the next decade.
The bill would provide the Postal Service with $46 billion in financial relief over 10 years, repeal $5 billion a year in mandatory retiree health care expenses, and require all future postal retirees to enroll in Medicare.
“Millions of Americans and Michiganders, including seniors, veterans, and small business owners, rely on the Postal Service to deliver. For decades, the Postal Service has struggled to overcome unfair and burdensome financial requirements that risk its ability to continue providing reliable service in the long run,” Senator Gary Peters said. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation would help put the Postal Service on a sustainable financial footing, ensure it is more transparent and accountable to the American people, and support hardworking postal workers who deliver rain or shine to communities all across the country.”
The legislation would also require the Postal Service to establish a public online mail delivery performance dashboard.
The agency has $188.4 billion in liabilities and has not met its on-time delivery goals since July.
The Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been called before Congress four times because of his relationship with former President Donald Trump, his reorganization of the agency, Postal Service preparedness, and declining delivery services. The Postmaster General plans to slow mail service and raise prices while moving the agency toward parcels.
“While its role in American life has changed over the years, the United States Postal Service remains a key part of American life, serving Americans through its delivery of vital medicines, important packages, and other mail,” Senator Rob Portman, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “For that reason, I am proud to join Senator Peters in introducing the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021, which will, when coupled with the Postal Service’s transformative 10-year plan, help turn around the substantial losses at the Postal Service over the last decade and ensure self-sustaining, high-quality postal service for all Americans.”
The agency’s billion-dollar liability and unfunded retiree benefits make up $136.1 billion of its debt. The Postal Service has not made payments since 2011.
“Some things are beyond the realm of legislation to be able to deal with,” Kenneth John, president of the Postal Policy Associates consultancy and former senior analyst at the Government Accountability Office, said. “Letter mail volume is going to decline to the extent that prices increase more rather than less. That decline may accelerate somewhat, but it’s fundamentally a result of changing ways of communication and payment, and these are going to continue.”
A similar bill advanced in the House last week.