Postal Reform Hits a Snag

Share this content:
Carper's still looking for a bill that will pass.
Carper's still looking for a bill that will pass.

No discussion of the Postal Reform Act (PRA) took place at today's meeting of the Senate's Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, complicating Chairman Tom Carper's original mission to pass legislation this year. Carper (D-DE) said the bill would be discussed at the committee's November 20 meeting instead, giving Ranking Member Tom Coburn's (R-OK) absence as part of the reason. Coburn was seeking treatment after having been diagnosed with a recurrence of prostate cancer.

But reasons for the delay run much deeper. The three major stakeholders in U.S. Postal Service policy—Postal Service management, unions, and mailers—remain at odds over details of the proposed Senate legislation. USPS managers strongly back the PRA since it will strip away the CPI rate cap and give them rate-setting powers. Mailers adamantly want the rate cap kept in any legislation, and have reservations about centralized delivery that will keep direct mail from hitting individual mailboxes. Postal unions remain opposed to five-day delivery and any other provisions that will cost jobs.

“Coburn thinks the Postal Service should be given unfettered pricing power and doesn't seem to recognize the fact that it's a monopoly that the mailing industry has already paid mightily to keep in business,” says Hamilton Davison, president and executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA). “We're paying 90% to 95% of the bills for this service. We're paying for all the mistakes made. Aside from what they pay for postage, there are no taxpayer dollars in it.”

The ACMA today emailed its membership, urging them to support Sen. Tammy Baldwin's (D-WI) effort to strike Section 301 from the Carper-Coburn bill, which would abolish regulatory oversight of the Postal Service and give it carte blanche to set rates. The letter especially asked for letters to be sent to Senators by members whose businesses are located in the states represented on the Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Mailers are generally in favor the House bill introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), which would retain the rate cap, set up a temporary postal management oversight board, and require mailers of underwater products to sustain measured rate increases up to a maximum of 90% of actual costs. That billed has been marked up and approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and is ready to be introduced for a vote.

As for the Senate, when a finished bill will be ready is anyone's guess.  “They need to circulate the legislative language of the bill before they discuss it. None of that work is done,” Davison says. “There's still a lot of concern about whether all the stakeholders can be on the same page.”

The general feeling among both mailers and union officials is that passage of both bills will be eased if the issues of retiree healthcare prefunding and ongoing healthcare benefits are resolved.

Loading links....

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

We recently were named B2B Magazine's Direct Marketing Agency of the Year, and with good reason: We make real, measureable, positive change happen for our clients. A full-service agency founded in 1974, Bader Rutter expertly helps you get the right message to the right audience at the right time through the right channels. As we engage our clients' audiences along their journey, direct marketing (email, direct mail, phone, SMS) and behavioral marketing (SEM, retargeting, contextual) channels deliver information relevant to the needs of each stage. We are experts at implementing and leveraging marketing technologies such as CRM and marketing automation in order to synchronize sales and marketing communications. Our team of architects and activators plan, execute, measure and adjust in real time to ensure the strategy is working as needed and change things if it's not.

Find out more here »

DMN's Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here