House, Senate Ready Postal Reform Bills

Both the House and the Senate are at work on legislation to get a postal reform bill passed this year. After releasing its discussion draft bill on May 4, the House Committee on Government Reform first postponed marking up the bill on May 6, but was marking it up on May 12, as this article went to press. The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs on May 12 issued its discussion draft bill, and plans to mark the bill up over the next few weeks.

The House version of the bill seeks to simplify the cumbersome rate-setting process while loosening restrictions on international mail, and giving the USPS different oversight than it has had since it was last reformed in 1971. At the same time, the bill aims to restrict some of the offerings of the USPS to reduce concerns of any unfair competition.

For the USPS, reform is urgent. Last year, a nine-member presidential commission projected the USPS’s cumulative operating deficit to widen to $47.5 billion by 2017 with costs continuing to outpace revenue.

Although it’s too early to formulate an opinion on the draft, the Direct Marketing Association said in a statement that the House bill draft “includes positive provisions that would sustain the Postal Service.”

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