Today, Senator Daniel Akaka (D) introduced legislation that would help the Postal Service save money and innovate. (The Senate Clerk has yet to assign a bill number to the legislation.) Provisions included in the bill may be offered as amendments to the Committee-passed bill, S. 1789, when the the legislation is considered next year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that postal relief legislation is a high priority and will be taken up in early 2012.
One of the provisions included in the Akaka bill should be of special interest to Postmasters. The provision would clarify that existing law precludes the Postal Service from making changes to Postmaster benefits outside of the legally prescribed “pay talks”, which can only occur within a specific timetable. NAPUS has worked with Senator Akaka on this language, because, in the past, the USPS has sought to circumvent established law by seeking to reduce earned benefits outside of pay talks.
The Akaka legislation would also eliminate the requirement that the USPS pre-fund retiree health health benefits, and authorize the agency to invest the more than $40 billion existing Postal Retiree Health Trust Fund balance in higher-yielding securities than currently invested. It would also set the funding goal at 80% of the total liability.
The bill updates service standards to encourage innovative postal pricing, and would authorize the Postal Service to create new classes of mail, and non-postal and experimental products and services. Additionally, Sen. Akaka’s bill would refund the $11 billion USPS overpayment into the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), to be used to establish retirement incentives for postal employees and repaying debt.
A summary of the legislation can be viewed by clicking on bill summary.