Lawmakers Approve Defense Bill, $500 Million for USPS

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Congressional negotiators approved a $20 billion package last night to aid in the Sept. 11 relief, shifting nearly $4 billion that President Bush wanted for his military campaign into Democrat priorities such as $500 million for the U.S. Postal Service, tighter homeland security and relief for New York.

The money for the postal service is to buy equipment to irradiate mail, not to help make up for lost revenue because of lower mailing volume since Sept. 11 and the anthrax scares.

Final floor votes in the Republican-led House and Democratic-led Senate on the measures were slated for this week.

The Direct Marketing Association today applauded the decision to include a $500 million appropriation for the USPS. These funds would be used to offset some of the costs the USPS will face in installing additional security measures for screening and sanitizing mail from future bio-terrorist attacks.

"We support the decision to approve this much-needed appropriation, and urge the full Congress to accept the conferees' recommendation," said H. Robert Wientzen, president/CEO, the DMA. "It is important for the federal government to do all that it can to preserve the integrity of the mail as a trusted channel of communications and commerce."

However, Wientzen cautioned that "it is imperative that this one-time appropriation is not misconstrued as a substitute for the needed legislative reform of the 31-year-old law that impedes the postal service's ability to provide universal service at affordable rates in a changing communications environment."

Wientzen continued, "without structural reform, the USPS will continue in a death spiral, causing irreparable damage to a channel of commerce and communications that contributes almost of $1 trillion in economic activity and nine million jobs to the nation's economy."

Finally, Wietnzen said "direct marketers rely on the affordable, universal delivery of the postal service. It is the lifeblood of an industry that, by itself, employs more than 4 million Americans and generates more than half-a-trillion dollars in commerce...A national defense program to ensure the continued integrity of the mail is rightfully the duty of the federal government -- it should not be borne by postage ratepayers."

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