Live From the ACMA Forum: H.R. 22 Should Be Law By Year’s End

Washington—Nanci Langley, vice chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, told attendees at the second annual National Catalog Advocacy & Strategy Forum that passage of H.R. 22 would help both the U.S. Postal Service and catalogers.

“I personally support H.R. 22 and am pretty confident it will pass become law before the end of the year,” Langley said. “This reallocation will save the USPS $2 billion a year.”

Langley said 302 members of the House of Representatives (435 total) support H.R. 22—a bill designed to alter the USPS’s payment schedule for funding retiree health benefits to help it cut costs. The USPS is required by law to prefund health care benefits for all its retirees.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act requires the USPS to spend more than $5 billion per year from 2006 through 2016 to prefund retiree healthcare benefits. No other federal agency is subject to this requirement.

The bill, introduced on Jan. 6 by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), would allow the USPS to pay for healthcare benefits for current retirees out of its Retiree Health Benefit Fund—which currently hovers around $32 billion—instead of its operating budget.

“It’s a stimulation, not a bailout,” Langley said of H.R. 22. “Rather than an aggressive prepayment schedule.” She noted that there currently isn’t any companion bill in the Senate, which means if H.R. 22 passes, there likely would be a compromised agreement.

When the Postal Reform legislation passed in December 2006, Congress “didn’t anticipate the current recession,” Langley said. She added that the PRC went from being the “rate maker” to the “regulator,” due to the Postal Reform legislation.

“The catalog industry has the ability to generate mail volumes other mailers just can’t.” Langley said. “And it helps that the PRC ensures transparency and accountability.”