The latest push to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service appears to be gaining momentum, as lawmakers from both parties have thrown their support behind a recently introduced legislative reform measure.
Two Republicans, Sens. Jerry Moran, Kan., and Roy Blunt, Mo., have signed on as cosponsors on the 2015 Improving Postal Operations, Service and Transparency (iPost) Act, which was authored by Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, Del. Also endorsing the legislation on Wednesday was one of Carper’s Democratic colleagues, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Mo.
Carper -- who has introduced postal reform legislation in three consecutive sessions of Congress -- initially put the bill forward on his own, with aides saying he wanted to get the language of the bill out there and let all voices weigh in. That was in contrast with his prior postal reform effort, in which the then chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee introduced the 2013 Postal Reform Act with the backing of his ranking member, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Carper held roundtables and meetings with stakeholders -- including other lawmakers, postal unions, large mailers and the agency itself -- throughout 2015 in an attempt to include issues important to each group. Carper’s previous efforts have fallen short as various parochial interests proved too strong and disparate to reach a consensus. The senator stressed the interests of lawmakers representing rural areas and states, whose support largely eluded him in the 113th Congress.
“To protect taxpayers from the costs of a truly bankrupt postal service, Congress must act to put the agency on a path toward solvency,” Moran said. “These reforms offer a serious policy framework to return the Postal Service to economic stability and preserve postal services across the country.”
McCaskill, who voted in favor of Carper’s bill in committee last year, said the bill would help modernize the U.S. institution.
“Ensuring the Postal Service endures through the 21st century is critical for everyone from the modern entrepreneur to the grandchild placing a card in the mailbox, and I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to sustain it,” McCaskill said. Blunt, her Missouri colleague, said constituents from the pair’s home state have made clear they depend on a “strong and efficient” USPS.
The bill -- which would reform retiree health care and its funding, develop new revenue streams; and provide more data on the agency’s performance in rural areas, among other changes -- has yet to receive any hearings or votes in committee. Carper aides have said the language as introduced represented only a first draft, and the senator was open to changing the bill. The postal advocate received criticism in the last Congress for his insular strategy to crafting his reform bill.
This time around, Carper is promising to take an inclusive approach as the bill moves forward.
“Whether we come from rural, urban, or suburban communities, my colleagues and I all agree that now is the time to act on comprehensive legislation that will stabilize and modernize the U.S. Postal Service,” Carper said. “I look forward to continuing to work with Sens. Moran, McCaskill and Blunt, our colleagues in the House and the Senate, Postal Service leadership and employees, stakeholders and postal customers to refine this legislation and ensure the Postal Service thrives long into the future.”
For its part, USPS has said there were some elements of Carper’s bill it supported, though as a whole it had many concerns with the legislation.