Postal Reform Bill Clears Senate

The US Senate on Wednesday passed a postal reform bill aimed at saving thousands of jobs and hundreds of mail processing plants and local post offices from closure. IN an atypically bipartisan showing, the Senate passed the measure by a vote of 62-37, making changes to the rules governing the USPS to avoid closing hundreds of post offices and ending Saturday mail delivery, which the USPS has said it must do to remain solvent.

Over the past decade or so, mail volume has fallen sharply as Americans increasingly turn to digital forms of communication like text messages and email. This trend has brought down US mail volumes significantly, hindering USPS revenue in the process. The USPS is a privately held company, but operates under rules set by Congress as the official parcel service of the world’s largest economy. Even as the company’s revenue has declined, it has still been forced to pre-fund retirement benefits for its employees, leading to massive financial losses culminating in a $5.1 billion loss in the fiscal year ended last September.

The Senate bill passed Wednesday allows the reduction of some of the USPS pension obligations, and changes door-to-door delivery to curbside delivery in some suburban areas. The bill also prohibits the USPS from ending Saturday delivery for at least two years, during which alternative cost-cutting measures will be explored in an attempt to save a six-day work week for the postal service. A similar postal reform bill is currently being hammered out in the House, and both bodies hope to have a combined bill completed in the next few months.