A Month to Push for Postal Reform?

With Congress back from its summer recess next week, direct marketers will not have to wait long on the prospects of a postal reform bill. Says Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs for the Direct Marketing Association in Washington: “We’ll know by Oct. 1.”

Never mind that Oct. 1 falls on a Sunday—Cerasale’s point is that since this is an election year, Congress will spend less time focusing on bills such as postal reform. “It is very likely Congress will adjourn early to allow congressmen and senators to campaign,” he says, and the adjournment date is Oct. 6. “So there’s less time in Washington to pass legislation.”

On Feb. 9, the Senate passed S. 662, a postal reform bill. Its sister postal reform bill, H.R. 22, passed on July 26, 2005, and resides in the House of Representatives. The House and Senate reform bills both call for shifting liability for military service time of postal employees’ retirement payments from the USPS to the U.S. Treasury, and for eliminating an escrow account. The Bush administration opposes the provisions because they would add to the budget deficit.

Both the House and the Senate committees will confer in the next few weeks and talk about the differences in the two bills and come forward with a conference report, which could be a compromise of both bills. “The two staffs are already talking,” Cerasale says. If the reform bill does not pass, he says, it will likely be two years before the postal reform issue is brought up again. In other words, it will be “safe to assume that the bill is dead.”

So it’s important for mailers to be proactive by contacting their elected representation and urging them to support postal reform. “This is not a small matter in the American economy. This is a $900 billion factor in economic impact and 900 million jobs. It is vital for us to continue on,” Cerasale says. Above all else, he adds, press the politicians “to get postal reform passed this Congress.”

For more on how you can help by contacting elected officials, go to www.the-dma.org/postal and click on postal reform legislation.