Six-days-a-week mail delivery saved; Biden signs Postal bill

Six-days-a-week mail delivery saved; Biden signs Postal bill

President Joe Biden has signed into law plans for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service

April 6, 2022, 10: 10 PM

4 min read

Congress approved the legislation last month after a full dozen years of debate that gained a new urgency due to widespread complaints about mail service delays. Officials had repeatedly warned that without congressional action, the Postal Service would run out of cash by 2024.

“The Postal Service has been central to our economy and is essential to rural America,” Biden stated. He added that mailmen and women deliver 4 million prescriptions per day, along with letters, consumer goods and even live animals, “often to parts of the country that private carriers can’t or won’t or aren’t required to reach.”

The final legislation achieved rare, bipartisan support by scrapping some of the more controversial proposals and settling on core ways to save the service. Delivering the mail is among the most popular things the government does, with 91% of Americans having a favorable opinion of the Postal Service, according to a Pew Research Center poll released in 2020.

Lawmakers from both parties attended the signing ceremony — and the mood was jovial, a big improvement from Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran previously saying the service was in a “death spiral” that was particularly hard on rural Americans. The Postal Service Reform Act reduces budget requirements that have contributed towards the agency’s red-ink. It stipulates that mail must be delivered six times a week, excluding federal holidays and natural disasters.

Postage sales and other services were supposed to sustain the Postal Service, but it has suffered 14 straight years of losses. The service delivers to an additional 1 million locations each year, despite rising worker compensation and benefits costs.

The new law ends a requirement that the Postal Service finance workers’ health care benefits ahead of time for the next 75 years — an obligation that private companies and federal agencies do not face. Biden stated that the rule had “stretched” the Postal Service’s finances to breaking point. “

Now, future retirees will enroll in Medicare, while other health plans and the Postal Service cover only current retirees’ actual health care costs that aren’t paid for by the federal health insurance program for older people,

To measure the agency’s progress in improving its service, the law also requires it to set up an online dashboard that would be searchable by ZIP code to show how long it takes to deliver letters and packages.

Efforts to reduce mail delivery were dropped from the package as it approached actual legislation. Other proposals to alter operations, including privatizing some services, were also left out of the package.

Criticism of the Postal Service peaked in 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis and ahead of the presidential election, as cutbacks delayed service at a time when millions of Americans were relying on mail-in ballots during the pandemic. Donald Trump, then-President, admitted that he wanted to financially limit the service’s processing capacity for an anticipated surge in mail-in ballots. He was concerned that this could lead to him losing the election.

Dominated by Trump appointees, the agency’s board of governors had tapped Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor, as postmaster general. He proposed a 10-year plan to stabilize the service’s finances with steps like additional mail slowdowns, cuts in some offices’ hours and perhaps higher rates.

Biden stated Wednesday that more must be done to reform and modernize the Postal Service. This would include investing in an electrified vehicle fleet to help reduce costs and combat climate change. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform will be examining a contract for the Postal Service to replace its large fleet of mail-delivery trucks. Democratic lawmakers and the Environmental Protection Agency argue that there are not enough electric vehicles in the fleet. Today we enshrine in law our recognition of the importance of the Postal Service to our economy, democracy, and our health, as well as our sense that we are a nation,” Biden stated.

ABC News

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