Carper Bemoans Exigency's End, Pleads for Postal Reform

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The senator sounds the alarm for quick passage of his iPOST bill following Sunday's historic drop in postal rates.

The removal of the 4.3% exigent surcharge on Sunday moved Sen. Tom Carper—author of a postal reform bill that would reinstate the higher rate permanently—to once call on his congressional colleagues to take emergency action.

“The higher rates put into place in the wake of the Great Recession served as a life preserver for the struggling Postal Service, helping it keep its head above water as it attempted to modernize its operations while struggling to adapt to the continued decline in mail volume,” the Delaware senator said in a statement released yesterday. “Congress has a sworn duty, enshrined in the Constitution, to ensure that the Postal Service is fiscally sustainable.”

Carper's proposed Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency Act of 2015 (iPOST) called for baking the surcharge in the exigency rate, and would most likely have to be amended to add the 4.3% back in. Postal stakeholders nearly unanimously support the bill's other key initiative: the removal of USPS's requirement to pre-fund retirees' health benefits and integrating them into the Medicare system. Both Carper and Postmaster General Megan Brennan have been adamant about keeping the higher rate, but the issue could provide the wiggle room to bring parties together in support of the bill.

Carper is equally adamant that Congress must act immediately to ensure the future of the Post Office. “I have pushed for nearly a decade for comprehensive postal reform that fixes the problems the Postal Service has been struggling with,” Carper said. But elected officials have chosen instead, he added, “to kick the can down the road and [force] the Postal Service to limp from crisis to crisis. Yet another financial crisis may now be on the horizon. We can't wait any longer.”

Senators who have signed on to the iPOST bill include Roy Blunt (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Jerry Moran (R-KS). Senators openly supportive of the bill tend to represent states with large rural populations most affected by cuts in postal services.

Carper is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees postal operations.

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