The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee worked throughout 2012 to move the 21st Century Postal Service Act, S. 1789, through Congress to ease the financial stress faced by the U.S. Postal Service.
The Senate approved the legislation Wednesday, April 25, 2012, to ensure the future of the USPS for millions of American people and businesses. The 21st Century Postal Service Act passed on a bipartisan vote of 62-37. The four Senate co-authors of the legislation - Senators Lieberman, Collins, Carper, and Brown - hailed the action as a strong effort to put the USPS back on solid financial footing, end its daily loss of $25 million, and prevent the wholesale closings of postal facilities. The House, unfortunately, has not yet taken up postal legislation.
The four Senators had introduced a substitute amendment to the 21st Century Postal Act, S.1789 in mid April to address concerns about the bill reported out of Committee that were raised by a number of Senators, especially those who represent rural areas where post offices are heavily relied upon not just for mail but as centers of the community. The substitute amendment would give the USPS the flexibility and tools it needs to raise revenues, cut costs, and maintain its financial viability.
Among its provisions, the substitute would require the U.S. Postal Service to continue overnight delivery for local first class mail, although across shorter distances than may be the case now. USPS would still deliver first class mail anywhere in the continental U.S. in a maximum of three days.The substitute also expands the alternatives USPS must consider before closing a post office. It would encourage the Postal Service to think innovatively about how to adapt its business model in a world increasingly reliant on electronic communications. And the revised bill requires appointment of a Chief Innovation Officer and establishes a Strategic Advisory Commission composed of prominent citizens and charged with developing a new strategic blueprint for the Postal Service.
The bill - introduced on November 11, 2011, and reported out of Committee on January 9, 2012 - would give the Postal Service the flexibility it needs to maintain financial viability, save billions of dollars, and remain the great national asset it has been for centuries. The Committee report was filed 1/21/2012. Senate debate on a substitute amendment began 4/17/12.
While the Committee has jurisidiction over the struggling service, the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security generally takes the lead on primary oversight.