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Congress Includes Postal Funding in Appropriations Bill

Mailers can breathe a sigh of relief since Congress passed a $388 billion fiscal year 2005 Omnibus Appropriation bill that includes postal funding. The bill, which was passed Saturday night, still must be signed by President Bush.

The bill is temporarily being held after members of Congress expressed concern over a line in it that would give the chairmen of the Appropriations Committees and their assistants the authority to access the income tax returns of any American. GOP leaders promised to delete the provision.

Bush is expected to sign the measure once the provision is deleted.

The size of the U.S. Postal Service's rate increase in 2006 could have jumped dramatically if postal funding hadn't been included in the appropriations legislation.

The omnibus bill included language from S. 2806, the Senate Transportation, Treasury, and General Government Appropriations Act, which allocated $29 million as part of the Revenue Forgone Reform Act of 1993. This debt repayment would be the 12th of 42 payments on more than $1.2 billion owed to the postal service. The Senate language also included $61.7 million for free mail for the blind and overseas voting materials and $507 million for emergency preparedness.

Postal officials have said the $507 million will cover the postal service's prior-year emergency preparedness expenses. The House bill and the Bush administration's budget plan did not include anything for emergency preparedness and revenue forgone.

Money not appropriated by Congress would have to come from revenue generated through a rate increase, which is expected in early 2006.

Also over the weekend, the Senate approved the nominations of James Miller III, to serve on the USPS Board of Governors, and Dawn A. Tisdale to serve on the Postal Rate Commission. Miller's term will expire Dec. 8, 2010. Tisdale will serve on the PRC until November 2006.

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