Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently introduced the Postal Service Protection Act (S. 1853 [PDF]), a bill that would go a long way toward resolving the USPS financial crisis, Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid reports.
“Sen. Sanders’ bill gets at the underlying causes of the Postal Service’s dire financial situation, and outlines methods for resolving the crisis,” he said. “It offers solutions that would strengthen service and protect the network of post offices and mail processing centers.
“The network is one of the Postal Service’s greatest assets,” Reid noted. “Unfortunately, several other bills currently pending in Congress would destroy this essential component of the Postal Service and American life.”
The Postal Service Protection Act would:
- Fix the Postal Service’s immediate financial crisis by allowing the USPS to recover the overpayments it made to its retiree pension funds — both the $7 billion overpayment to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the $50 billion to $75 billion overpayment to the Civil Service Retirement System. In addition, the bill would eliminate the unique requirement that the USPS pre-fund 75 years worth of future retiree health benefits in just 10 years. No other agency or company in America is required to pre-fund these benefits.
- Establish new ways to generate revenue by ending the prohibition on USPS providing non-postal services, such as providing notary services, new media services and issuance of licenses; contracting with state and local agencies to provide services; shipping wine and beer, and allowing the USPS to provide services that mail systems in many other countries provide, including digital services.
- Create a blue-ribbon commission composed of entrepreneurs, representatives of labor and small businesses to provide recommendations on how the Postal Service can generate new revenue to succeed in the 21st century.
- Prevent the closing of rural post offices by giving the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) binding authority to prevent closures based on the effect on the community and employees. The bill would also prohibit USPS from considering whether a post office is turning a profit when making the decision to conduct a feasibility study for closure.
- Protect six-day delivery.
- Protect mail-processing facilities by requiring strict standards for delivering first-class mail.
Joining Sanders as original co-sponsors of the bill were Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Click here for a more detailed summary [PDF] of the bill.