WASHINGTON, DC – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, delivered remarks ahead of the final Senate vote urging his Senate colleagues to support the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act. The legislation will set the United States Postal Service on a more sustainable financial footing and support the goal of providing long-term reliable service across the country. The bill strengthens transparency and accountability for Postal Service performance, eliminates unnecessary financial burdens, and helps ensure the Postal Service can better serve the American people.
A transcript of the speech can be found below and a video can be found here.
“I stand today to support the Postal Service bill that’s before us. We’re nearing the end of a long journey to help the Postal Service and to help the Postmaster General to be able to implement needed reforms. Last year, Senator Peters, who I see is on the floor here, and I introduced the Senate version of the Postal Service Reform Act. We had 28 cosponsors equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. Why? Because Postal Service is not a partisan issue. It’s something that all of us should agree on.
“We need to save our Postal Service, otherwise we’re going to be in big trouble. In the next few years, I believe it would go insolvent, otherwise. I believe we’d be here talking about a big bailout. This is not a bailout. In fact, there’s no appropriation in this legislation. The Post Office is really important to my constituents. Young, old, rural, urban, everybody. That’s why we’ve seen such strong bipartisan support when this bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 342 to 92. That rarely happens in the House.
“And strong bipartisan support last night when the Senate cloture vote was 74 to 17. Saving the Post Office is the right thing to do. Let’s face it. The fact of the matter is the Postal Service is delivering less and less more profitable First Class mail to more and more places. That economic model just does not work, and that’s a recipe for ruin. If we don’t adjust to this new reality and make some necessary changes, is it hard to make changes? Of course it is, but it’s the right thing to do. We’ve talked about it for years here.
“Finally, we came together, Republican and Democrat. Neither of us got exactly what we wanted. Both had to make concessions. But we were actually doing the right thing for the country here to save the Post Office. And I regularly hear about this from my constituents across Ohio. I’m sure you hear the same. You hear from your veterans, you hear from some of your rural residents who depend on the Post Office for a lot, including their lifesaving medications. Families rely on the Post Office to deliver their rent checks on time, to pay their utility bills, to get their Social Security checks. In Ohio, we’ve got no excuse absentee voting. It’s worked really well for over a decade now. But if you’re a voter in Ohio, you want to get your application in time and you want to get your ballot in in time. That all depends on the Post Office.
“Small businesses in Ohio reach their customers primarily through direct mail now. That’s through the Post Office. So this is really important that we put the Post Office on a sound financial footing. And by the way, it can’t be done just with an act of Congress. What we’re doing is complementing what the Postmaster General and the Postal Board is doing in terms of serious reforms at the Post Office. They work together. In fact, the Postmaster General said this bill he strongly supports because it gives him the headroom he needs, the financial breathing room he needs to make the other important reforms to save the Post Office. What do we do?
“First, we eliminate a very burdensome pre-funding requirement for retiree health benefits, Congress mandated this a decade or so ago. Regardless of age, current employees have to be pre-funded. This has crippled the Post Office financially. By the way, no other federal agency has to do this, and private sector companies don’t do this. This is pre-funding. The money will be there, but it’s a matter of having to pre-fund it that is crippling the Post Office financially.
“Second, we require the Post Office employees who are retiring, who have been paying into Medicare their entire careers to enroll in Medicare Part B and to access Part D. Something, by the way, that almost every private-sector employer does. They’re already in Part A.
“Third, we require the Postal Service to maintain its current standard of a six-day a week delivery through an integrated delivery network of mail and packages together so that those who rely on the Postal Service for their medications and other important needs are properly served. That six-day-a-week delivery, by the way, is really important to my constituents and to a lot of your constituents if you talk to them about it, particularly in the rural areas.
“The Congressional Budget Office estimates that after all this, this bill will result in savings to the taxpayer. The savings over the next ten years is $1.5 billion. I’d also like to note what this bill does not do because there’s been some misinformation out there.
“One, it does not appropriate new funds to the Post Office, period. Two, it does not change the accounting or costing structure for packages and letters, so it does not disadvantage private-sector carriers. That’s very important to me. This is the status quo that we’re putting in place here. It does not change the accounting or costing structure for packages and letters.
“Third, it does not allow the Postal Service to enter into new commercial services like postal banking. That’s also very important to me. And contrary to the claims of this bill’s opponents, this bill does not impact the solvency of the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund. That’s the trust fund we all talk about. Going belly up in 2026. It does not affect it, period. CBO has actually written to something saying that, but it just makes sense. People are already in Part A. And this bill does not increase the Medicare Part B and Part D premiums based on the CBO analysis. Why? Partly because it’s such a small number of people. Only 25 percent of those employees are not already in Part B and Part D. Those additional ones make very little difference. But part of it is they’re paying their premiums.
“So let’s pass this bill. We also have a budget point of order before us. It’s coming up next. I want to be clear. Again, CBO’s estimated $1.5 billion savings over the ten-year budget window that we have to use around here. However, CBO has estimated this legislation would likely increase on-budget deficits by $5 billion or more in at least one of the four or ten-year periods beginning in 2032. I’d like to make three quick points.
“First, none of this deficit is related to the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund for Part A. Again, that’s the trust fund that we talk about a lot here because we’re concerned about it. It could be exhausted as early as 2026. CBO said that trust fund will not be affected.
“Second, CBO’s estimate only addresses on budget direct spending. It actually excludes all future savings to the Post Office which are off-budget. Let me give you an example of that. The premiums that Postal Service employees are going to pay, that’s not part of the calculation.
“Third, and finally, this budget point of order ignores that postal workers are entitled to Medicare Part B and Part D like any other eligible American worker. The bill simply requires future Postal Service retirees to access these benefits, the 25 percent that don’t already do it. Private-sector employers require their retirees to do the same thing, of course. No one raises these budget points of orders on them.
“Right now the Post Office is in trouble, folks. And if we don’t do something and do something significant working with the Post Office to make their own internal reforms, we’re going to be in big trouble, as I said earlier. Let’s move forward on this bill. Let’s ensure that the Post Office is healthy going forward for all of our constituents, I yield back my time.”