Advance Notice: Briefs

Senate passes postal reform bill, sending it to Biden’s desk

By: - March 11, 2022 2:56 pm

Susan J. Demas

Following overwhelming bipartisan support of legislation to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in the House last month, the U.S.Senate on Tuesday gave similar support to a companion measure put forth by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.). 

The 79-19 vote sends the measure to President Biden for his signature. The major overhaul of the USPS would, among other things, create nearly $50 billion in savings by eliminating a requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits for all current and retired employees for 75 years in the future (a mandate with which no other government entity must comply), while also requiring future Postal Service retirees to enroll in Medicare. 

Sen. Gary Peters at the Flint drive-in rally for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with former President Barack Obama, Oct. 31, 2020 | Andrew Roth

In addition, Peters’ bill requires the Postal Service to maintain delivery six days a week, as well as improve transparency with the publication of easily accessible local weekly service data on the Postal Service website. 

“By passing this historic legislation, the Senate has shown the American people that we can come together, build consensus, and pass meaningful reforms that will improve lives,” said Peters. “This bill, which has been 15 years in the making, will finally help the Postal Service overcome burdensome requirements that threaten their ability to provide reliable service to the American people.” 

Working with Peters to get the bill across the finish line was Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who noted it was the first major reform of the USPS in 15 years.

“I am proud the Senate has passed our bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act, which will, when coupled with the Postal Service’s transformative 10-year plan, help turn around the substantial losses at the Postal Service over the last decade and ensure self-sustaining, high-quality postal service for all Americans,” he said.

Portman is the ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Peters.

However, not all Republicans were on board with the measure. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) tried, but failed, to get last-minute changes to the bill, which he contended “doesn’t reduce costs — it just shifts them from one unfunded government program to another unfunded government program.”

Scott had previously delayed the legislation from proceeding due to a minor clerical error, which Peters at the time referred to as “a procedural blocking technique,” while noting that since 2000, there had been five similar clerical mistakes in the transfer of a bill and that in all five instances they were settled quickly.

The reform effort gathered steam after the arrival of Postmaster Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee who purposely brought about changes that slowed mail service — including removing 671 sorting machines — prior to the 2020 election. 

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.