BREAKING NEWS: Postal Reform Passage Imminent?
Eleven years in the making, and written off as dead and buried just a few weeks ago, a new postal reform bill is expected to be passed through the House and Senate possibly by the end of Friday — if not, Saturday. The House on Dec. 7 introduced H.R. 6407, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. Once approved by both chambers of Congress, sources say that President Bush will sign the bill into law. The new bill has all the elements that the White House has been demanding.
In brief, what this means to catalogers is as follows:
* Future postal rate hikes will be at or below the inflation rate. A cap for raising rates will be created by linking rate changes to increases in the consumer price index. This will give mailers the chance to know what’s coming and be better prepared for rate increases.
* The cumbersome and costly, nine-month-long rate case process will be eliminated, giving the Postal Service the ability to set new rates much quicker, but with oversight from a new government agency, the Postal Regulatory Commission. The commission would be able to alter the cap or the rate system if it sees fit. The USPS will have greater incentive to keep its costs in line.
“You don’t get passage of a comprehensive reform bill after 11 years without a lot of compromise from mailers and a bipartisan congress,” says Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council, an Arlington, Va.-based lobbying group. “Everybody has had to give up something to this point. And that’s why this bill, declared dead just recently, is likely to be passed.”
The new bill contains two key elements that will likely lead to its success:
1. For the first time in U.S. history, the USPS will no longer be required to pay for postal employee pension costs for those employees who previously served in the military. The new bill would eliminate this.