Direct Marketers Push for Postal Reform

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Leading direct marketers are strong-arming senior lawmakers of the House Government Reform Committee to get them to support postal reform and push the Postal Modernization Act, H.R. 22, forward.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. John McHugh, R-NY, chairman of the House postal service subcommittee, has been pending in the Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Burton, R-IN, since April.

Insiders say the bill is not moving because Burton is waiting for the six or seven votes needed before a hearing would successfully pass it to the full committee and onto the full House floor. Support has shifted to H.R. 2535 - also known as H.R. 22 Lite - that was introduced in July by ranking Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California during the 106th Congress.

An amendment also was brought up this session by Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-OH, but was never formally introduced. It has the support of the United Parcel Service and calls for a review of the U.S. Postal Service's rate-making process in both domestic and international mail, and gives the Postal Rate Commission the final determination over postal rates and classes of mail. The bill was expected to be introduced at the committee hearing.

Earlier this month, Direct Marketing Association president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen and representatives from Columbia House, BMG Direct, the National Arthritis Foundation and R.R. Donnelley met with reps who have not shown support for postal reform. They urged the reps - Mark Souder, R-IN; David McIntosh, R-IN; Bob Barr, R-GA; and Mark Sanford, R-SC - to support H.R. 22 and oppose other bills that would weaken the legislation.

According to Wientzen, meaningful postal reform - such as that envisioned in H.R. 22 - would give the postal service the ability to compete in the marketplace, especially since fierce competition, declining mail volume and an inability to modify business practices would require the USPS to raise rates to balance its budget.

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