The House on Tuesday passed a sweeping bipartisan bill that would overhaul the US Postal Service’s finances and allow the agency to modernize its service.
The Postal Service Reform Act – which cleared the House by 342-92 – would require retired postal employees to enroll in Medicare when eligible, while dropping a previous mandate that forced the agency to cover its health care costs years in advance. Those two measures would save the USPS nearly $50 billion over the next decade, according to the House Oversight Committee.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to take up the long-sought legislation before the end of next week.
“With an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the House, it is my intention for the Senate to take up and pass this bipartisan, bicameral postal reform bill before the end of this work period,” the New York Democrat said in a statement.
New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, House Oversight chairwoman and sponsor of the House legislation, said in a statement following the bill’s passage in the chamber that “today’s historic bipartisan vote brings us one step closer to finally putting the Postal Service on a sound financial footing so it can continue serving all Americans for years to come.”
The panel’s Republican ranking member, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, added that the measure “bolsters operational efficiencies, helps cement Postmaster General DeJoy’s reform plan, provides key oversight tools to enhance transparency, and ensures the six-day delivery of mail and packages for all Americans.”
Established in 1775 to promote the free exchange of ideas across the colonies, the Postal Service is among the country’s oldest government institutions – yet it operates with few of the financial benefits of being a federal agency while still bearing many of the costs.
Unlike other government agencies, the USPS generally does not receive taxpayer funding, and instead must rely on revenue from stamps and package deliveries to support itself.
And unlike private courier services such as UPS and FedEx, the USPS does not get to set its own prices or excise unprofitable routes. Instead, Congress sets the postage rate and stipulates that the Postal Service delivers to all homes in America – including a remote community in the Grand Canyon, where the mail is delivered by mule.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said earlier Tuesday that USPS’ “dire financial condition” has inhibited the agency from modernizing, including from replacing the vast majority of its aging vehicle fleet with electric trucks.
“USPS is crucial & if you don’t think so, try living in areas of Alaska without roads! This bipartisan bill helps bring financial stability to USPS so they can deliver to my constituents for years to come,” GOP Rep. Don Young of Alaska tweeted Tuesday.
Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, who vowed to lead the legislation’s passage in the Senate, similarly tweeted, “Millions of Americans and Michiganders, including seniors, veterans, & small business owners, rely on the Postal Service to deliver.”
CNN’s Liz Stark contributed to this report.