Congress passes bill that would overhaul USPS

Congress passed legislation this week that would reform the funding and operation of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

The Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 passed the U.S. Senate with a 79-19 vote on Tuesday, March 8. The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed the bill with a 342-92 vote in February.

The bill will offer a buffer to USPS’ mounting losses and will mandate that mail delivery service is carried out six days a week in the U.S., except in the case of federal holidays, natural disasters and a few other situations.

It also includes a requirement for USPS to create an online “dashboard” to update customers with delivery time data. It would be searchable by zip code to show how long it takes to deliver letters and packages.

Future postal worker retirees will be required to enroll in Medicare.

Other provisions in the $106 billion package include allowing state, local and tribal governments to partner with USPS to deliver non-postal goods on behalf of those governments.

The bill also includes provisions for improving service in rural America. To help ensure rural newspaper sustainability, the bill will increase the number of copies a subscription publication can send to non-subscribers at a reduced rate to 50% from 10%.

USPS implemented changes to mail delivery standards last fall for first-class mail and periodicals that impacted rural areas more heavily during the COVID-19 pandemic. USPS was experiencing an increased demand of mail volume, primarily for packages, consumer goods and e-commerce. But the increased demand, combined with years of deficits at USPS due to shrinking mail volume and pre-funding retiree’s healthcare costs, impacted delivery service.

USPS also closed processing facilities around the county, which added to the service delays.

Postages sales and other services were supposed to sustain USPS, but it has suffered 14 straight years of losses. Those losses are attributed to a decline in mail volume and growing costs for workers’ compensation and benefits.

Lawmakers believe the bill will help reform USPS and improve service and operations.

The bill now heads to U.S. President Joe Biden for his signature.

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