USPS Doubtful on Reform Passing This Year

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WASHINGTON -- A U.S. Postal Service official expressed doubt at yesterday's Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee quarterly meeting that Congress will pass postal reform before the holiday recess.


"This is just a guess, but we think when they come back, we are going to be dealing with this in the winter and next spring," said Tom Day, USPS senior vice president of government relations.


Mailers are waiting to see whether a bipartisan bill (S. 662) sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins, R-ME, and Tom Carper, D-DE, will be taken up by the full Senate. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the bill in June. The House bill, H.R. 22, passed 410-20 on July 26.


Day said the bill almost passed the Senate this summer but it's now being held up by a dispute between Collins and Sen. Kit Bond, R-MO. Bond has placed a hold on the bill, saying he wants to insert language allowing mailers to challenge prices for First-Class mail if they think the rates are not "fair and equitable."


Bond has said that his provision -- backed by Kansas City, MO-based Hallmark and other companies that rely on First-Class mail -- would protect consumers from being hit with higher postage rates to subsidize discounts for large bulk mailers. Sen. George Voinovich, R-OH, also has issues with the bill, Day said.


Large catalog mailers such as L.L. Bean, Freeport, ME, agree with Collins, as does the USPS.


"We won't be able to restructure rates in a way that incentivizes the right types of mail to be more efficient," Day said. "We need fair and equitable to be a factor, as it has been for the last 35 years." Day said the USPS is working with Collins' staff to look at alternative solutions, but "we haven't come up with anything."


In his presentation, Day also reiterated the USPS Board of Governors' position on postal reform bills by discussing a letter it sent to lawmakers in September.


"The issue of governance has become really a front-burner issue beyond trying to get past the fair and ethical issue," Day said.


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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