Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) received a small but needed boost for his iPOST postal reform bill today as fellow Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) signed on as co-sponsors. All three hail from states with large swatches of farmland, where residents experience some of the greatest delays in mail delivery.
‘We’ve seen postal service quality across rural America decline as the USPS’s debts and future liabilities rise,” said Moran in a statement. “Failure to make reforms now will cause the Postal Service’s financial crisis to worsen and increase the cost of any future fix. To protect taxpayers from the costs of a truly bankrupt postal service, Congress must act to put the agency on a path toward solvency.”
Association executives working on behalf of mailers cite the new sponsors as a positive development, but hope momentum for postal reform continues to build. “This moves [iPOST] forward a tad. Three sponsors on the bill is better than none, but it’s a long way to go to convince the chairman of the committee to call a hearing on the bill and move it toward mark-up,” said Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce. Del Polito was referring to chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, who is a proponent of privatizing the Postal Service.
With the 2016 presidential election looming, there is recognition in all quarters of the postal issue that getting a bill passed in the coming year would be a tall order. Del Polito was pessimistic that a Republican-controlled Congress would pass a bill that would clear postal workers to enroll in Medicare and further burden the U.S. Treasury. “The biggest wild card, as I see it, is winning congressional approval to make the changes with Medicare,” he said.
Carper’s bill would also bake the 4.3% exigent surcharge into the Postal Service’s base rate, a feature abhorrent to big mailers. “Reversing the expiration of the exigent rates and continuing Postal Service dependency on them creates an unsustainable business model. The Postal Service, marketers, and the U.S. economy are stronger with a Postal Service that has fully adapted to the Information Age,” commented Chris Oswald, VP of advocacy for the Direct Marketing Association.
Most mailers agree that postal reform is needed to ensure stability in postal rates and service levels, and one association executive remained hopeful it can get done in 2016. “I think there’s recognition that there’s a need to do something and that time is running short. Senator Carper is doing everything he can to push things forward, but he still has to have a lot more support,” said Hamilton Davison, president and executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association. “Three sponsors is better than none, but there are bills that have 100 sponsors.”