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USPS Board Opposes Changes to Postal Reform Bill

The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service sent a letter to Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, yesterday opposing a Senate bill and new amendments to reform the USPS. Collins and other senators are rumored to have worked out a compromise that would allow the bill to be considered by the full Senate.

“As we have communicated through a series of letters last year, buttressing communications from previous boards about earlier versions of the legislation, we believe there are critical elements missing from this bill, as well as numerous burdensome provisions that would make it extremely difficult for the postal service to function in a modern, competitive environment,” the letter said.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Collins chairs, approved the bill (S. 662) in June. However, Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-MO, placed a hold on it so he could insert language letting mailers challenge prices for First-Class mail if they think the rates are not “fair and equitable.”

Bond has said his provision, backed by Kansas City, MO-based Hallmark and other companies that rely on First-Class mail, would protect consumers from getting higher postage rates to subsidize discounts for large bulk mailers. Collins has said Bond's language would reduce the U.S. Postal Service's flexibility to set its own rates.

One of the amendments concerns this language and changes it to “just and reasonable.” But the USPS opposes this.

“This language has the same legal equivalency [as fair and equitable],” said Thomas Day, senior vice president of government affairs at the USPS.

Another amendment that the USPS opposes involves giving the Postal Rate Commission oversight into the day-to-day business of the postal service.

In its letter, the BOG also singled out possible opposition from the White House.

“[W]hile the bills do return responsibility for military retirement expense to the U.S. Treasury, this violates the Statement of Administration Policy and invites a Presidential veto,” the board wrote.

The amendments are being circulated through the Senate, and the intent is to move the bill for unanimous consent, which could happen as early as today. The USPS, however, is hoping that at least one Senator will not agree to unanimous consent. Under Senate rules, one Senator can stop unanimous consent.

A bill passed the House last summer.

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