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Senate Plans Markup on Postal Bill Tomorrow

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee scheduled for tomorrow a markup of a bill that would let the U.S. Postal Service lower its pension contributions to the Civil Service Retirement System.

The USPS estimates it would save $2.9 billion in fiscal year 2003 and $2.8 billion in FY 2004 through lower contributions. A review last year by the federal Office of Personnel Management found that the postal service would exceed its obligations to the Civil Service Retirement System by $71 billion based on current contribution levels. A General Accounting Office report last month went further, stating that the postal service already has overfunded the CSRS by $4.1 billion.

Pension contributions are fixed by law, however, and cannot be changed without congressional approval.

Similar to a House of Representatives bill set for markup March 6 by the House Government Reform Committee, the Senate bill calls for the USPS to use the savings to pay down its $11 billion debt to the Treasury Department in fiscal years 2003, 2004 and 2005, continue to fund retiree health benefits and hold postal rates steady until 2006.

Beyond 2005, the bill would require the postal service and OPM to calculate the difference between the cost to fund CSRS under the bill and the cost under the old law. This amount would be held in escrow until Congress decided what should be done with the money.

On Feb. 28, a coalition of postal employee organizations, printers and others supporting the legislation sent a letter to all members of the House Government Reform and Senate Governmental Affairs committees encouraging passage of the bills.

More than 100 companies and organizations signed the letter, including Acxiom Corp., Advo Systems Inc., the Direct Marketing Association, the Association for Postal Commerce, Capital One Financial Corp., DoubleClick, Experian Marketing Solutions, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, Pitney Bowes, Quad/Graphics and R.R. Donnelley Logistics.

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