The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously approved H.R. 22 on July 10, clearing the way for consideration of the measure by the full House. The bill would provide desperately needed short-term relief to the Postal Service, which is facing a severe financial crisis.
H.R. 22 would modify a provision of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires the Postal Service to prefund the healthcare benefits of retirees from its operating budget. The funding obligation — combined with the nation’s economic downturn — has brought the USPS to the brink of insolvency.
The bill would allow the Postal Service to pay a portion of the benefits from the Postal Service Health Benefit Fund for three years, through Fiscal Year 2011, and is expected to save the USPS more than $2 billion per year. The relief provided by H.R. 22 comes “without a single dollar of taxpayer money,” noted APWU Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid.
The House bill has 338 co-sponsors, so adoption by the full House appears certain. However, a companion bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate.
APWU President William Burrus praised the vote. “We are pleased by the vote and eager for H.R. 22 to become law,” he said. “But we are mindful of the long-term financial challenges facing the Postal Service.”
Consideration of H.R. 22 by the House is expected before Congress’ August recess.