Update: $6.4M Cut Won't Affect DMers

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The $6.4 million cut in allocations expected to go to the USPS this year is not going to affect direct marketers, but future amendments being considered to the FY00 Senate Treasury General Government Appropriations Bill -- S-1282, which was passed by voice vote on the Senate floor July 1 -- may be another story.

The $29.7 billion bill, sponsored by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), chairman of the treasury and general government subcommittee, appropriates $93.4 million to the USPS -- $6.4 million less than last year's allocation of $100.1 million. If the bill is approved by Congress and the President, the USPS will have $64.4 million to use toward providing free mail for the blind and Americans voting overseas, and this money will be deferred until Oct. 1, 2000.

Direct marketers were not affected by any amendments to the bill on the Senate floor, but an amendment offered -- but not appended -- by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jim Jeffords (R-VT) would affect the USPS' ability to build facilities and would put the construction of post offices under the auspices of the Postal Rate Commission.

If passed, "the way it is written could, over time, cripple our ability to modernize our facilities, which would have an impact on mail service and subject our ability to manage our critical infrastructure to PRC oversight," said USPS spokesman Tony Conway.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), chairman of the subcommittee on international security, proliferation and federal services, and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), the ranking democrat, offered Baucus and Jeffords a hearing this fall in lieu of the amendment.

On the House side, the FY00 Treasury-Postal Appropriations Bill is currently stalled. The $27.1 billion bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), chairman of the subcommittee on treasury, postal service and general government, was passed by the subcommittee. This bill appropriates $93.4 million for payments to the postal service fund, $70.8 million for free mail for the blind and overseas voters and $29 million for reimbursements to the postal service for prior year reimbursement shortfalls because of insufficient appropriations in prior years and rate provisions for nonprofit mailers.

House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Elizabeth Morra said the Committee is expected to mark up the bill next week. After that, the bill must first go through the House floor, then, after the Senate and the House work out the differences between the two bills, it must go back through the House and Senate before it goes to the President for his signature. The bill has to be passed by Oct. 1, the beginning of the government's fiscal year.

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