A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation on Wednesday that would reform the US Postal Service after the struggling agency made repeated requests to Congress to help its dire financial situation.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters of Michigan and top committee Republican Rob Portman of Ohio introduced the measure, which would eliminate a prefunding requirement for postal service retirees that has hamstrung the financially strapped agency, as well as integrate retirees’ health care with Medicare.
The lawmakers argued these two reforms alone would create more than $45 billion in savings for the Postal Service over the next 10 years.
The legislation would also require USPS to continue delivering at least six days a week, require the publication of data on the Postal Service website and report to Congress every six months on finances and operations.
At least nine Republican senators already support the legislation, which Democrats are also expected to widely favor, increasing its odds of passing the narrowly divided chamber.
“This commonsense, bipartisan legislation would help put the Postal Service on a sustainable financial footing, ensure it is more transparent and accountable to the American people, and support hardworking postal workers who deliver rain or shine to communities all across the country,” Peters said in a statement.
Portman said the legislation, paired with the agency’s own 10-year plan, will “help turn around the substantial losses at the Postal Service over the last decade and ensure self-sustaining, high-quality postal service for all Americans.”
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a controversial Trump appointee who remains in charge of the postal service, laid out the sweeping 10-year reform plan in March that includes longer first-class mail delivery times and cuts to post office hours across the country.
The sweeping 58-page plan, titled “Delivering for America,” promises to make the Postal Service more competitive and more modern – including a new energy-friendly fleet of delivery vehicles.
It includes investments in “advanced package processing equipment,” upgrades to post offices and uniforms, new technology such as mobile devices for letter carriers, and new employee training.
It also calls for dialing down delivery time expectations, which it notes the system has been unable to meet “over the past eight years.”
It proposed changing the standard for first class letters and flats to a five-day standard from a three-day standard. The Postal Service said that under the plan, it expects to deliver about 70% of first-class mail within three days.