Washington, DC – Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE) today stressed their commitment to getting comprehensive postal reform legislation approved by Congress and signed into law this year. Senators Collins and Carper have introduced legislation to reform and strengthen the United States Postal Service (USPS), which is the linchpin of a $900 billion mailing industry that employs more than nine million people. Senator Collins is the Chairman and Senator Carper is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the USPS.
Senators Collins and Carper released the following joint statement following a press conference that was held today by the Office of Personnel Management:
“We are committed to working with the Administration to achieve comprehensive postal reform this year. A healthy and stable Postal Service that can ensure a reliable and predictable rate-setting structure is necessary for the viability of thousands of businesses that rely on the mail, and to their millions of employees. It is not too late to avoid what the Government Accountability Office refers to as a “death spiral,” but comprehensive postal reform – as we have proposed – is required.
“We are working closely with the Administration to implement many of the recommendations of the President’s Commission. However, the Administration has expressed serious reservations about two of the significant recommendations made by the President’s own Commission – recommendations which we continue to support and we believe are critical to true and comprehensive reform.
“Over the next 10 years, the Postal Service will bank $43 billion in escrow, representing savings from our correcting overpayments to the Civil Service Retirement System. The Administration is opposed to returning a single dollar of these funds to the same ratepayers who have been overpaying the postal service for years. The Administration’s proposal amounts to nothing less than a new and harmful tax on postal customers. It would take all of the benefit from correcting the problem away from the American mailing public and would lead to unnecessarily high rate increases for mailers.
“Also, the Administration’s position that the USPS should pay retroactive retirement costs for the military service of its employees is in direct contradiction to the recommendation of the President’s own Commission, which noted that this provision “asks those who use the nation’s postal system to subsidize the military every time they use the mail. No other federal agency is required to make this payment retroactively. It is unreasonable and unfair to hold ratepayers responsible for this $17 billion obligation over which the Postal Service has no control.
“The Postal Service has reached a critical juncture. If we are to save and strengthen this vital service upon which so many Americans rely for communication and their livelihoods, the time to act is now.”
The Collins-Carper postal reform legislation repeals a provision of Public Law 108-18 which requires that money owed to the Postal Service due to an overpayment into the Civil Service Retirement System Fund be held in an escrow account, which would essentially “free up” $78 billion over a period of 60 years. These savings would be used to not only pay off debt to the U.S. Treasury and to fund health care liabilities, but also to mitigate rate increases. It also returns to the Department of Treasury the responsibility for funding CSRS pension benefits relating to the military service of postal retirees.