Postal Ser­vice Mod­ern­iza­tion Bills In­tro­duced Satur­day Mail Pre­served

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Washington, DC

Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to mod­ern­ize the U.S. Postal Ser­vice, save Satur­day mail and re­peal a crip­pling law re­spon­si­ble for 80 per­cent of the mail sys­tem’s fund­ing woes.

“While we all un­der­stand that the Postal Ser­vice is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fi­nan­cial prob­lems to­day and that changes need to be made as the Postal Ser­vice ad­justs to a dig­i­tal world, th­ese is­sues can be dealt with in a way which strength­ens the Postal Ser­vice rather than ini­ti­at­ing a se­ries of cuts that could even­tu­ally lead to a death spi­ral,” San­ders said.

The Se­nate bill is cospon­sored by Sens. Pa­trick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gil­li­brand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ron Wy­den (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sher­rod Brown (D-Ohio).

“Congress must work to­gether and pass leg­is­la­tion that will sus­tain the Postal Ser­vice, avert un­nec­es­sary clo­sures that hurt com­mu­ni­ties and save Amer­i­can jobs. Most of the fi­nan­cial is­sues fac­ing the United States Postal Ser­vice are due to short-sighted ac­tions by Congress. Congress must un­shackle USPS so we can deal with th­ese prob­lems and al­low the Postal Ser­vice to bet­ter com­pete,” DeFazio said.

Un­der the leg­is­la­tion, pro­posed cuts to Satur­day de­liv­ery would be pre­vented. “Pro­vid­ing fewer ser­vices and

less qual­ity will cause more cus­tomers to seek other op­tions,” San­ders said. “Ru­ral Amer­i­cans, busi­nesses, se­nior ci­ti­zens and veter­ans will be hurt the most by end­ing Satur­day mail.”

The mea­sure would let the Postal Ser­vice look for in­no­va­tive new ways to make money by lift­ing le­gal bans on ser­vices such as no­ta­riz­ing doc­u­ments, is­su­ing hunt­ing and fish­ing li­censes and al­low­ing ship­ments of wine and beer. It also would clear the way for the Postal Ser­vice to help cus­tomers take ad­van­tage of email and In­ter­net ser­vices. More­over, a com­mis­sion would be cre­ated com­posed of suc­cess­ful busi­ness in­no­va­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from small busi­ness and la­bor to make rec­om­men­da­tions on other ways the Postal Ser­vice could gen­er­ate new rev­enue and thrive in the 21st cen­tury.

Ar­guably the most crit­i­cal fi­nan­cial re­form pro­posed by San­ders and DeFazio would be to re­scind an oner­ous 2006 law pushed through a Repub­li­can-con­trolled House at the be­hest of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush. Un­like any pri­vate busi­ness or other government agency, the law makes the post of­fice pre-fund 75 years of fu­ture health care ben­e­fits for re­tirees over the course of 10 years. The $5 bil­lion an­nual pay­ments have been pil­ing up in a fund that ex­perts say al­ready has more than enough in re­serve. Since 2007, the pre-fund­ing man­date is re­spon­si­ble for $4 out of ev­ery $5 in Postal Ser­vice debts.

The bill also would re­in­state overnight de­liv­ery stan­dards to speed mail de­liv­ery and pre­vent shut­downs of mail sort­ing cen­ters. Safe­guards also would be put in place to pro­tect ru­ral post of­fices.

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