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Carper Delays Markup of Postal Reform Bill

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) postponed yesterday’s meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee at which the final markup of the Postal Reform Act was to take place. He told attendees of a Bloomberg News government breakfast yesterday that fine points of the bill still remained out of order.

“I like to schedule markups…to try to force people to make decisions, compromises, and get us to the altar,” Bloomberg News quoted Carper as saying. He added that members of the committee met with postal industry stakeholders on Tuesday to address refinements needed in the legislation.

It was the third time Carper postponed the markup, which he intended to complete in November.

Meanwhile, rumors abound among bulk mailers that the Postal Regulatory Commission is nearing a decision on the Postal Service’s request for a 4.3% exigent rate increase. Grayhair Software’s newsletter published yesterday said a ruling was expected before Christmas.

The PRC’s original deadline was December 26, though the government shutdown gives the body a grace period of 16 days. “The Commission could recoup the days that were lost during the government shutdown.  However, the decision may come sooner,” PRC spokesperson Gail Adams told Direct Marketing News.

Insiders have few indications of how the PRC is leaning.  An amalgam of mailing industry stakeholders provided detailed testimony to the PRC last month holding that competition from digital alternatives caused USPS’s fortunes to fall, not the recession as the Postal Service maintains.  Competition would not constitute the exceptional circumstance necessary for an exigent increase; the recession would.

“I feel there is a better than average chance the PRC will reduce the 4.3% requested by the Postal Service by some amount,” says Hamilton Davison, president and executive director of the
American Catalog Mailers Association.

Should that be the case, Davison and other mailer interests hope the increase does not exceed 1.2%. That would represent 27% of the 4.3% requested by the Postal Service, a truer representation of the damage done by the recession, according to mailer interests.

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