Coalition Urges Congress to Enact Postal Reform Before Adjournment

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Postal Reform in the Public Interest, a coalition representing small-volume and First-Class mailers, is urging Congress to pass meaningful reform legislation before it adjourns, saying double-digit postage rate increases may be the cost of inaction.

Congress is scheduled to adjourn Oct. 1.

In a letter sent Friday to the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and House, the coalition stated that last week postmaster general John E. Potter said the U.S. Postal Service would be forced to seek a double-digit rate increase if reform legislation were not passed soon.

The letter was signed by PRPI chairman Robert S. Walker, who was a member of the President's Commission on the U.S. Postal Service and served in the House of Representatives for 20 years.

Walker said the USPS faces more than $90 billion in debt and other unfunded obligations. "This is a matter of major consequences to the U.S. economy," he wrote. "The postal service is a $67 billion organization, the 11th largest U.S. enterprise by revenue, the second biggest employer in the nation and the center of a thriving domestic mailing industry."

Versions of reform legislation passed congressional committees during the summer, but no bill has reached the floor of the Senate or House.

"The collective testimony from years of congressional hearings and the work of the President's Commission, on which I served, paint a stark and clear picture of a postal service in financial and systemic distress," Walker wrote.

He told Sens. Bill Frist, R-TN, and Tom Daschle, D-SD, and Reps. Tom DeLay, R-TX, and Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, that by passing reform legislation, "you can help ensure that the U.S. Postal Service remains a vibrant element of our society, serving the varied and vital interests of the public."

PRPI thinks the USPS should have the authority to optimize its facility network and retail operations, including workforce, without interference by Congress. It agrees with the USPS that it should have a streamlined rate-setting process.

The coalition also urges regulatory oversight that includes subpoena power. That would ensure the submission of timely and verifiable cost data by the USPS and protect mailers from what it calls "excessive rates, cross-subsidization and unreasonable discrimination."

Organizing members of Postal Reform in the Public Interest include the Greeting Card Association, the Newspaper Association of America, the McGraw-Hill Companies, American Business Media and Reed Elsevier Inc.


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