Despite CSRS Amendment, Legislation Hinges on GAO Report

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An amendment addressing the U.S. Postal Service's funding of a retirement plan has been added to a report accompanying the Senate version of the omnibus fiscal 2003 appropriations bill.


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN, added the amendment last week. The appropriations bill, H.J. Res. 2, could be passed as early as today.


"Essentially, Sen. Frist is putting a placeholder in so that if he wants to bring it up, or if Sen. [Ted] Stevens [chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee] brings it up or if somebody else wants to bring it up, it's legitimate and within the rules for them to discuss it," said Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council. "That does not necessarily mean that they are going to fix it."


The postal service is working to get its pension contributions to the Civil Service Retirement System lowered after a review by the Office of Personnel Management in October found that the USPS has almost fully funded future obligations to the CSRS. The postal service has said that lowering its retirement contributions could keep postal rates steady until 2006.


Pension contributions are fixed by law, however, and changing them requires congressional approval. Critical to any legislation, McLean said, is a General Accounting Office report on the status of CSRS funding expected to be introduced Jan. 30.


Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, who heads the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, reportedly has prepared a bill to change the funding but is waiting to see whether the GAO report contradicts the OPM before she introduces it.


Collins is reportedly having a private briefing with the GAO today. The GAO meets Thursday with others on Capitol Hill, but it will not release its report to the public until after that.


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