March 9 (UPI) — The Senate on Tuesday approved a $107 billion bill to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service’s finances and allow it to modernize its services.
Senators voted 79-19 to approve the Postal Service Reform Act that provides the agency greater financial flexibility removing $57 billion in past-due postal liabilities as well as $50 billion in payments throughout the next 10 years.
“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,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said. “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.”
The bill, which passed in the House by a 342-92 vote last month, requires future postal service retirees to enroll in Medicare and drops a requirement set by a 2006 bill ordering the agency to annually pre-fund their healthcare costs. Declines in mail revenue have forced the agency to default on those payments since 2011.
It would also require USPS to create an online dashboard with local and national delivery time data and allow the agency to contract with local, state and Indigenous governments to provide basic non-mail services including granting hunting and fishing licenses.
Speaking ahead of the vote, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that once the bill is made into law postal reform will be “signed, sealed and delivered for the American people.”
“We all know that when the post office is forced to cut hours of operation or delivery routes or lay off workers, the rest of us are worse off,” Schumer said. “Thankfully, for the past few months, Democrats and Republicans have been working together in good faith to reform some of the most troubled parts of the Postal Service.”
USPS has come under fire since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy took office in June 2020 including facing criticism for taking down mail collection boxes and lawsuits related to mail delays amid increased mail-in voting during the 2020 elections.
DeJoy last year debuted a 10-year plan to cut costs including lowering the service standard for first-class mail from three days or less to five days or less and reducing office hours.