Collins asks PRC to consider Congress’s intent in deciding exigent case

WASHINGTON, July 25 — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, issued the following news release:

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today urged the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to consider Congressional intent as it determines how closely proposed rate hikes must be linked to an exigent circumstance to warrant an increase above the rate of inflation.

The 2006 postal reform law, which Senator Collins authored, capped postal rate increases at the rate of inflation, but allowed a narrow exception for extraordinary or exceptional circumstances such as a terrorist attack or catastrophic natural disaster.

Senator Collins’ committee has jurisdiction over the U.S. Postal Service. In January, she filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to uphold the PRC’s unanimous decision to reject the Postal Service’s requested rate hikes, which on average, would have increased rates by four to six percent. The Court of Appeals largely agreed with the PRC’s and Senator Collins’ position, but remanded to the PRC the narrow question of how close the causal link must be between a proposed rate increase and the exigent circumstances used by the Postal Service to justify the increase.

"The economy and technology are affecting the Postal Service and, indeed, most businesses. But in writing postal reform legislation in 2006, my intention was not to permit rate increases above the inflation-based cap as relief from chronic, ordinary, or unexceptional circumstances and general Postal Service red ink," said Senator Collins. "I urge the PRC to require that the nexus between the exigent circumstances and the proposed rate hike be close. This is necessary to preserve the stability and predictability of rates that the 2006 law sought to establish.

"Excessive rate increases coupled with service cutbacks will only drive customers away. The Postal Service needs to redouble its efforts to cut costs, develop new services to increase volume, re-invent its business model, and work with the Administration to remedy an overpayment to the federal retirement fund. I will continue to press the Administration and the Postal Service on these vital reforms."