HomeBudget & Tax NewsOp-Ed: U.S. House Passes Postal Service Reform Act; Now It Is Senate’s...

Op-Ed: U.S. House Passes Postal Service Reform Act; Now It Is Senate’s Turn

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last week to pass landmark postal reform legislation by a 342-92 vote, which included majority support from both parties.

The Senate is expected to move quickly to consider the measure.

The Postal Service Reform Act of 2021 provides a significant restructuring of the sometimes-beleaguered United States Postal Service (USPS), and will save the federal government $1.5 billion over the next 10 years to help put it on a path to financial stability.

As stated by Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the bill’s cosponsor, this “bipartisan bill will improve the sustainability of an institution that plays a critical role in the lives of Americans.”

In particular, Section 202 of the legislation constitutes a big win for anyone concerned about the public fisc and maintaining service to rural areas because it allows the USPS to continue proven, cost-effective business practices.

Specifically, Section 202 codifies longstanding policy and practice of USPS using its integrated delivery network to deliver mail and packages together six days per week. That network offers consumers economies of scale, and has actually helped the Postal Service generate $13 billion in income over its costs during fiscal year 2021.

Some private carriers have lobbied Congress to eliminate that integrated delivery network, hoping Congress requires the USPS to decouple mail and packages. That, however, would result in the Postal Service having to build out duplicative infrastructure at great cost to consumers and potentially taxpayers. Operating a parallel fleet to accomplish that would be expensive, with estimates suggesting it could cost the Postal Service $15 billion annually.

Decoupling mail and packages makes no sense beyond cost concerns, either. Imagine one postal worker delivering mail to your neighborhood midday and a completely different postal worker, in a separate vehicle, traveling the same route, delivering packages to your neighborhood in the afternoon. No business owners in their right minds would operate that way, and the Postal Service shouldn’t be forced to.

Importantly, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021 also ensures rural Americans can continue to rely on USPS’ vital services. Postmaster General DeJoy has said that Section 202 is key to the Postal Service’s traditional universal service obligation, which ensures it remains an important lifeline into rural America. Keep in mind the fact that private carriers that have lobbied against Section 202 have no such obligation. If a zip code is too remote, or costs too much to service, those private carriers can simply remove them from their delivery systems or impose steep “rural surcharges.” Without USPS’ package delivery, therefore, many Americans in those rural areas would not be able to get medication and other supplies by mail.

As Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, said after House passage of the bill, “The service that USPS provides to those in rural communities, is critical — but it has been lacking. The Postal Service Reform Act will help ensure that USPS can efficiently deliver essential mail to those who rely on their service.”

The USPS has been the subject of intense debate over the past couple of years. Pandemic complications, election-related squabbles and the Postal Service’s own financial problems contributed to a cocktail of conflict over the agency. Nevertheless, it always has enjoyed broad public support. A 2020 Pew Research Center poll showed it actually remains the American public’s favorite federal agency, with a 91% approval rating.

By passing this important reform measure, the House of Representatives appears to have listened to the American people and addressed some of the USPS’ outstanding issues in a common-sense manner. Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Let’s hope they follow suit and pass the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021 swiftly.

Jeffrey Mazzella is president of the Center for Individual Freedom. Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.

Jeffrey Mazzella
Jeffrey Mazzella
Jeffrey Mazzella is president of the Center for Individual Freedom.

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