USPS rescue plan passes House, Senate up next

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HR 22, the United States Postal Service Financial Relief Act of 2009, has passed the US House of Representatives, but postal officials say action in the Senate is needed quickly to head off potential problems.

"The timetable in the Senate is uncertain at this point," said USPS spokesperson Gerry McKiernan.

The bill cuts a required payment to postal retirees' health fund from $5.4 billion to $1.4 billion. The payment is due September 30, and unless a similar bill passes the Senate and is signed by the President by then, the USPS must still make the full amount.

"People should understand that there's an urgency for this," said McKiernan. "The Postmaster General has already said that making the payment on the September 30 is problematic, and any corporate entity would not want to default."

McKiernan said that representatives from the USPS will be on Capitol Hill this week pushing for a speedy resolution.

HR 22 will reduce the USPS' debt by about $4 billion, leaving it at $3 billion. Its total debt load will rise to $10.2 billion, short of the $15 billion limit established by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.

The PAEA also mandates the payment due at the end of this month that the USPS is working to avoid.

The USPS lost $2.4 billion last quarter, which is also when it began looking for Congressional help.

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