WASHINGTON– The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Thursday passed legislation to help address the dire financial situation facing the United States Postal Service.
The Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Funding Reform Act of 2009, S. 1507, was introduced by Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., and co-sponsored by full committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. It passed by a vote of 11-1.
“There is a serious financial strain on the Postal Service resulting from the current economic slowdown and the ever-growing electronic diversion of the mail,” said Carper. “Our legislation preserves the vital service the Postal Service provides while setting the stage for Congress, the Postal Service and postal employees to work together to streamline its operations and make it viable for years to come.”
“A number of factors—including the economic downturn and competition from internet communications—have left the U.S. Postal Service financially crippled,” Lieberman said. “The Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Funding Reform Act will help the USPS survive temporarily by providing short term financial relief. Our Committee will continue to work with USPS and all stakeholders to develop a more comprehensive solution to improve the financial viability of the Service.”
Recently, Postmaster General Jack Potter and Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Carolyn Gallagher notified Congress and officials at the Treasury Department that the Postal Service will not make its $5.4 billion retiree health, pre-funding payment by September 30, as required by law.
The bill also gives the postal service more borrowing authority to meet its financial obligations and get through this current fiscal year and next.
The Postal Service expects mail volume to be roughly 175 billion pieces this fiscal year, a decline of 38 billion pieces since 2007. The Postal Service is also projecting a loss of $7.1 billion in FY2009 despite its success in working toward $6.1 billion in cost cutting in one year.
Sen. Carper hopes this bill will be enacted into law before Congress adjourns in August.