WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today wrapped up her Committee’s final hearing in a series on U.S. Postal Service reform, and reaffirmed her goal of introducing bipartisan reform legislation before the end of the month.
To date, the Committee has held eight hearings covering the full scope of issues relating to postal reform and focusing on the 35 legislative and administrative recommendations of the President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service. These recommendations are designed to help the 225-year-old Postal Service remain viable over the long term.
“As a Senator representing a largely rural state whose citizens depend on the Postal Service, I appreciate the Presidential Commission’s strong endorsement of the basic features of universal service — affordable rates, frequent delivery, and convenient community access to retail postal services,” said Senator Collins. “It is important to me that Mainers living near our northern or western borders, or on islands, or in our many rural small towns, have the same access to postal services as the people of our cities.
“We must save and strengthen this vital institution upon which so many Americans rely for communication and their livelihoods,” Senator Collins continued. “The Postal Service has reached a critical juncture. It is time for action, both by the Postal Service and by Congress. That is why I am working to enact reform legislation this year.”
Senator Collins is working with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and other members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee to draft a bipartisan, comprehensive postal reform bill. She is also working closely with leaders in the House of Representatives on postal reform, including House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Congressman John McHugh (R-NY).
Throughout the hearings, Senator Collins has reiterated the need for and importance of postal reform. The Postal Service is the linchpin of a $900 billion mailing industry that employs 9 million Americans in fields as diverse as direct mailing, printing, catalog production, and paper manufacturing. Industries that rely on the Postal Service and its affordable rates account for nearly 9% of the Gross Domestic Product. However, the Postal Service is presently paying down $5 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury, and its long-term liabilities are enormous — nearly $7 billion for Workers’ Compensation claims, $5 billion for retirement costs, and as much as $57 billion to cover retiree health care costs.
In February, the General Accounting Office echoed Senator Collins’ calls for comprehensive — not incremental — reform to ensure the USPS’ future viability. In a letter to the Senator, GAO Comptroller General David Walker wrote, “Comprehensive postal reform is urgently needed. The ability of the service to remain financially viable is at risk because its current business model — which relies on mail volume growth to cover the costs of its expanding delivery network — is not well aligned with 21st century realities.”