WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, held its first hearing this Congress on the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. Postal Service, “Laying Out the Reality of the United States Postal Service.” The two panels of witnesses, which included Postmaster General Megan Brennan, U.S. Postal Service Inspector General David Williams, Acting Chairman Robert Taub of the Postal Regulatory Commission, and representatives from private industry, discussed the need for postal reform legislation from Congress, postal rates, service, and how the ailing Postal Service can innovate, grow revenue, and adapt to the Digital Age.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the Committee’s Ranking Member and lead Democratic sponsor of the bipartisan Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency Act of 2015 (S.2051) or “iPOST,” highlighted the bipartisan and productive hearing.
“I am pleased with the bipartisan turnout at this morning’s hearing,” said Sen. Carper. “Committee members from both sides of the aisle, Postal Service leadership, and postal stakeholders were able to discuss the hurdles facing the Postal Service and opportunities for making its 200-year old delivery network relevant in the Digital Age. For the Postal Service to truly be successful, however, Congress must enable it to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the package boom and other recent successes. They can do it, but we need to help.
“Every one of our witnesses conveyed a sense of urgency and agreed that we cannot continue to kick the can down the road any longer,” he continued. “Despite the Postal Service closing its books in 2015 with its ninth consecutive year of multi-billion dollar loses, it’s been nearly 10 years since major postal reform legislation was signed into law, although we’ve made several attempts at it in recent years without getting the ball into the end zone. Absent legislative intervention, the Postal Service will continue to falter. It will remain unable to fully invest in its future, and its employees and customers will continue to be uncertain about what that future holds. Our witnesses made it clear that it’s time for Congress to come off the bench and get in the game.”
Since the beginning of the 114th Congress, Sen. Carper has held numerous briefings, roundtables, and meetings with members on both sides of the aisle and postal stakeholders to assess the hurdles facing the Postal Service, identify the tools the Postal Service needs to innovate and thrive in the 21st century, and find a way forward on postal reform.
April 17, 2015: Senator Carper Convenes Bipartisan Briefing on Postal Service Finances
May 12, 2015: Senator Carper Hosts Second Bipartisan Briefing on U.S. Postal Service Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Age
May 19, 2015: HSGAC Senators Host Roundtable on Rural Postal Issues
At today’s hearing, members of the Committee and stakeholders had the opportunity to weigh in on iPOST, which was introduced in September. iPOST includes a comprehensive package of reforms that would place the Postal Service on firm financial footing, stabilize and improve service performance, allow for the development of new products and services, and enhance transparency. The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Following today’s hearing, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) signed on to iPOST as a cosponsor.
“As today’s hearing underscored, iPOST is a bill that enjoys wide support among the postal stakeholders whose priorities and goals often diverge widely, but because of a collaborative, transparent process, have been able to come together around this effort,” said Sen. Carper. “I am thrilled that Senator Collins has decided to join our effort as a cosponsor to iPOST. She and I have been working on this issue for years and I look forward to her support as we move forward with our bill.”
Immediately following the hearing, Sen. Carper answered questions and discussed the prospects of getting iPOST across the goal line in 2016.
Witness testimony across the board, from Postal Service leadership to mailing industry stakeholders, addressed the urgent need for substantive legislative reforms to the Postal Service in order to right the organization and set them on the path toward fiscal stability for years to come.
“Legislative reform is required now, and the proposal… along with other changes, such as a favorable outcome in the 10-year review, makes our financial situation is eminently solvable,” said Postmaster General Megan Brennan. “America deserves a financially stable Postal Service that can continue to play this vital role in our economy and society. In a dynamic and increasingly digital, mobile and device-driven world, the Postal Service has opportunities to enhance the way we enable commerce.”
“We need urgent action from this committee and urge it to begin with S.2051, the iPOST Act,” said John Hutcheson, president of the National Newspaper Association. “..although not every provision in this bill is what we would have preferred, our membership believes it provides the vehicle this committee needs to move legislation NOW.”
Stakeholders from around the country submitted statements of support for urgent postal reform. A number of stakeholders, which includes Amazon, the American Postal Workers Union, CVS Health, the National Association of Letter carriers, National Newspaper Association, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, National Newspaper Association, and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, among others, submitted the following statement to the Committee:
“While there is a broadly recognized need for the enactment of postal reform legislation to address the Postal Service’s financial situation, no bill has attracted sufficient support to pass Congress… The elements of this consensus approach, which are described below, broadly reflect the adoption of private sector best practice with respect to health insurance coverage and investment practices. Most of these elements are drawn from or inspired by bipartisan legislation developed by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in recent years, including S. 2051 introduced by Senator Carper earlier this year. These are the core proposals that should be included in postal reform legislation.”
For more information, including a section-by-section summary of iPOST and bill text, please visit: www.carper.senate.gov/postalreform