House Bill Includes No USPS Emergency Preparedness Funds

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The U.S. Postal Service received no emergency preparedness funding in the $66.9 billion fiscal year 2006 Transportation, Treasury, Housing, and Urban Development bill that the House Appropriations Committee passed Tuesday.


House floor action is tentatively scheduled for June 29-30.


The bill provides $87.4 million for the USPS to meet its statutory obligation to provide free mail for the blind, free mailing of absentee balloting materials by members of the armed forces and other U.S. citizens residing abroad and free mailing of balloting materials between state and local officials.


It also appropriated $29 million as part of the Revenue Forgone Reform Act of 1993. The revenue-forgone appropriation is designed to compensate for postal revenue not collected for mail sent at reduced postage rates, such as Nonprofit Standard Mail. This debt repayment would be the 13th of 42 payments on more than $1.2 billion owed to the USPS.


The bill appropriates less money than the USPS asked for, but more than President Bush's 2006 budget proposal published in February.


In testimony before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee in April, Postmaster General John E. Potter asked for three reimbursements: $29 million for revenue forgone, $108.5 million for statute-imposed costs and $51 million for the cost of equipment to defend against biohazards in the mail.


Potter said the $51 million would be used to deploy biohazard detection and ventilation and filtration systems and construct a mail irradiation facility in the Washington area.


The 108th Congress appropriated $503 million to offset USPS costs for these initiatives, but Potter said the additional funding is needed to complete the installation. The USPS will continue to cover the operating expenses for these systems from its operating budget.


"Both the administration and Congress have recognized that supporting the costs for postal system changes has been a critical element in the enhancement of the security of the nation," Potter said in his testimony. "These costs have been -- and should continue to be -- funded by the government as part of its homeland security activities. These are not costs that should be borne by postal ratepayers."


Potter also said the USPS currently spends about $800,000 of its own funds monthly to irradiate mail destined for Congress, the White House and federal government agencies in Washington.


Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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