Sen. Collins to Introduce Legislation to Reform the Postal Service

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today urged the U.S. Postmaster General to continue taking strong steps to reform his agency, and pledged to introduce legislation to help the Postal Service meet its reform goals.

During a Committee hearing today to examine postal service reform recommendations, Postmaster General John Potter testified that the Postal Service faces daunting challenges, such as paying down $7 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury, covering its enormous long-term liabilities, and trying to cut costs from its nationwide infrastructure and transportation network. It is also hampered by a decrease in First-Class mail volume, which has reduced revenue counted on to pay for more than two-thirds of the Postal Service’s institutional costs. In July 2003, the President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service developed a report outlining recommendations to help the agency address those challenges.

“In its own Transformation Plan, the Postal Service determined what changes could realistically be made to improve operations, performance and finances,” said Senator Collins. “This plan has been widely recognized as a good ‘first step,’ but that’s exactly what it is—a first step. Without legislation, many of the necessary reforms highlighted in the Commission’s report simply will not happen.”

Senator Collins said she intends to introduce legislation to assist the Postal Service with its reform efforts, and that universal service would be an essential goal.

“If the Postal Service were no longer to provide universal service and deliver mail to every customer, the affordable communication link upon which many Americans rely would be severed,” said Senator Collins. “Most commercial enterprises would find it uneconomical, if not impossible, to deliver mail and packages to rural Americans at rates that the Postal Service has been offering.”

Senator Collins has long been a leader on postal reform, and this is the second hearing she has held this year to examine reform recommendations. Earlier this year, Senator Collins and Senator Carper (D-DE) introduced legislation, now law, to adequately and fairly adjust the U.S. Postal Service payments into the Civil Service Retirement System, thereby averting postal rate increases at least until 2006 and allowing the agency to more aggressively pay down its debt to the U.S. Treasury.

Last year, Collins introduced the United States Postal Service Commission Act of 2002, which would establish a Presidential Commission to examine the challenges facing the Postal Service and to develop solutions to ensure its long-term viability and increased efficiency. A few months later, President Bush announced that he would create such a panel.