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CBO: Issa’s postal bill would save USPS $23.6 billion, cost taxpayers $6.6 billion

The Congressional Budget Office has released its estimate of the budget impact of Darrell Issa’s postal bill, HR 2748. The bill would reduce USPS expenses by

  • eliminating Saturday mail delivery
  • reducing benefits to postal workers and retirees
  • eliminating home delivery of mail for some customers
  • changing the pre-funding formula for USPS future retiree health benefits

The CBO says that those measures would save the USPS $23.6 billion over the next ten years. The estimate assumes that customers would be willing to pay increased rates for the reduced services the USPS would offer in the future. The Issa bill would also shift $6.6 billion in costa to the taxpayer, increasing the federal budget deficit. (Apparently it’s not a “bailout” if Congressman Issa proposes it?)

CBO Estimate: H.R.2748 – 113th Congress (2013-2014): Postal Reform Act of 2013 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress.

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Postal workers alliance sends letter to Issa opposing latest reform proposal

The four unions representing rank and file postal workers have sent the following letter to Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the Ranking Member:

alliance

Dear Mr. Issa and Mr. Cummings:

We write to share our views on the hearing held on April 8, 2014 on the President’s proposals in the FY 2015 budget regarding the U.S. Postal Service. We write on behalf of nearly 500,000 postal employees who live and work in every Congressional District in America and who belong to our unions. We respectfully request that this letter be included in the record of the hearing. Read More

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Maine Congressman Calls on Speaker Boehner to Bring Postal Reform Legislation to the Floor after Recess

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Mike Michaud is calling on Speaker John Boehner to prioritize legislation that would promote the stability and sustainability of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Rep. Michaud has sent a letter to the Speaker urging him to take action following the April recess. If Speaker Boehner refuses to act, postal facility hours will be cut, service standards will be reduced, and thousands of postal jobs will be lost. Read More

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Tester says postal bill moves the Postal Service closer to privatization

tester(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today voted against a bill to restructure the Postal Service, saying the measure “moves the Postal Service closer to privatization and could hurt rural mail delivery.”

Tester voted against the bill as a member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that oversees the Postal Service. Tester has worked for years to reach a fair compromise that puts the Postal Service on sound financial footing while keeping mail delivery service standards strong.

“Half measures won’t balance the Postal Service’s books or preserve needed mail service in rural America,” Tester said. “This bill shirks our responsibility to fix the Postal Service and further leads the organization down the path to privatization, which will further cut mail service in rural America. Better solutions exist, and I will keep working with my colleagues to include them in the bill.”

Tester says the bill would do nothing to reverse the closing of mail processing facilities nationwide, which has resulted in delayed mail delivery throughout rural America. The bill also fails to fully address the requirement that the Postal Service prepay retirement benefits of postal employees at a rate higher than necessary, but includes sweeping changes to the federal workers compensation program, even though the committee has yet to hold a single hearing on the issue.

Tester backed a bipartisan Senate plan in 2012 that gave the Postal Service the flexibility it needs to restructure while protecting postal service in rural states like Montana, but the House of Representatives never voted on the plan.

Tester has a long-record of working to reform the Postal Service while making sure rural Montanans can still reliably get their mail and packages. He successfully got the Postal Service to keep Saturday delivery in 2013, protected rural post offices from closure, and kept the Missoula mail processing facility open.

The Postal Reform Act will next be considered by the full Senate. Tester will continue to work to amend the bill to make sure it works for rural America.

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Senate committee set to continue mark-up of S. 1486

From the National Association of Letter Carriers:

NALC-LOGOFeb. 4, 2014–On Jan. 29, the Senate committee with Postal Service oversight, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, spent nearly three hours in a mark-up meeting to debate a handful of proposed amendments to S. 1486.

After that first session stalled, committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) announced that the mark-up would resume on Thursday, Feb. 6.

“Unfortunately, none of the proposed amendments to S. 1486 will fix the fundamental flaws with the bill,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said, “and at least one amendment–on rate-setting–would make the bill worse.”

As written, S. 1486 would facilitate the end of door delivery and the elimination of Saturday delivery, therefore destroying tens of thousands of letter carrier jobs. It also would endanger all postal jobs by slowing service and driving business away from the Postal Service.

“I am disappointed that the committee will seek to advance this flawed legislation,” Rolando said. “We will continue to fight for the kind of reform that will strengthen the Postal Service without slashing service or attacking hard-working postal employees.”

Round 1

One of the first amendments considered after the first mark-up meeting came to order on Jan. 29, from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), called for an immediate end to six-day delivery. It was easily defeated on a voice vote.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) proposed an amendment calling on the Postal Service to declare bankruptcy and reorganize. In the senator’s vision of reorganization, collective-bargaining agreements between USPS and its employee unions would be renegotiated, while existing no-layoff protections and the ability to bargain over wages would be banned. The committee voted down the Paul amendment 11 to 4.

An amendment offered by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) called for the removal of the bill’s unfair provisions regarding injured workers. As written, S. 1486 imposes cruel and discriminatory reforms to the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA) that would leave injured federal workers with the worst long-term injuries vulnerable to impoverishment when they reach Social Security retirement age. This FECA language was originally proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) under last Congress’ postal bill, S. 1789. Collins no longer serves on the oversight committee, but the language was still carried over into S. 1486.

Tester’s amendment failed, and the FECA reform language was retained. However, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the committee’s ranking member, admitted that the language was reflective of the last Congress’ priorities, and he said that even if it made it into the final bill, he believed it would be removed during House-Senate conference committee negotiations. Tester disagreed, saying that he was hearing that the House would likely follow the Senate’s lead on the matter and leave the language in the bill, untouched.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) raised some concerns over the new bill’s call to transfer rate-setting authority from the Postal Regulatory Commission the Postal Board of Governors, effectively giving complete rate-setting ability to the Postal Service with greatly reduced oversight. She also raised concerns about a revised price index system.

Following a great deal of back-and-forth discussion on the matter, Baldwin’s concerns were noted and her amendment was held over for future consideration.