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Senators Keep Postal Reform Bill on Hold

Two senators are preventing postal reform legislation from being passed in the Senate.

Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council, confirmed yesterday that Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, and Jim DeMint, R-SC, have put a hold on S.662, which was put on the Senate calendar for consideration under its unanimous consent rule two weeks ago. If no senators object, the bill could pass without debate.

Both senators want the bill changed to support the Bush administration's position on the treatment of the Civil Service Retirement System escrow money and the payment of the military obligation.

“This is a very bad thing,” McLean said. “I don’t think it is permanent. It is just a reflection that some senators are just now engaging in the substance of the bill and need to be informed as to why this bill is important to the mailing industry and to postal customers.”

Like the House version, which passed last summer, the Senate’s bill would repeal a provision of the Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act of 2003 requiring that money owed to the U.S. Postal Service because of an overpayment into the CSRS fund be held in an

escrow account. The account would require contributions of $78 billion over 60 years.

The bill proposes to use the escrow funds to pre-fund post-retirement health benefit obligations, pay down any outstanding debt to the Treasury and hold down operating expenses and rate increases. It also returns the responsibility for funding CSRS pension benefits related to the military service of postal retirees to the Treasury Department. No other agency is required to make this payment retroactively.

The Bush administration, however, does not agree with these proposals because of their costs and budget impact.

Also, senior postal service officials blasted the bill and several new amendments last month, saying it could cause a 20 percent rise in postage rates.

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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