Scott Olson/Getty Images

The House Finally Plans to Vote on Postal Reform Next Week

The long-sought-after bill could make its way to the president's desk by the end of the month.

The House is planning to vote on a bipartisan bill to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service as soon as next week, looking to finally make progress on legislation the mailing agency has said is vital to avoiding fiscal calamity. 

The 2021 Postal Reform Act (H.R. 3076) won unanimous support when the House Oversight and Reform Committee approved it in May and has companion legislation in the Senate, but has languished without action for months. Lawmakers are finally looking to move the bill forward, however, and are waiting only for a Congressional Budget Office score expected in the coming days. 

There are no particular sticking points or causes for alarm from the pending CBO review, a Democratic aide said, and the current plan is for a vote on the House floor next week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a recent letter to House members the chamber is “moving forward” with the bill and “may” vote on it in February. 

The bill would make sweeping changes to USPS operations, though its scope is slightly pared back compared to previous failed attempts at postal reform. The core of the bill will shift more postal retirees to Medicare for their health care and require most postal workers to select postal-specific health care plans. It would take onerous payments toward health care benefits for future retirees off the agency’s balance sheets. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has endorsed the bill and said its core components were essential to eliminating projected losses over the next decade as part of his 10-year business plan.

The measure would allow USPS to provide non-postal services, including for state governments and other federal agencies. It also includes a six-day delivery mandate, which DeJoy has already said he plans to maintain. Postal management would face a new requirement to update the White House, Congress and its regulator every six months on its financial state, volume, implementation of changes, investments into its network and performance. It would also have to create new annual performance targets with a public website for tracking results.

While all Republicans on the oversight committee eventually approved the measure, they did so with significant hesitation. The minority party only offered support after successfully fighting to remove a provision Democrats had originally included to restrict USPS from altering its service standards. DeJoy is in the midst of implementing his business plan, which has included slowing down delivery for some mail. Bipartisan support has not stopped previous postal reform efforts from repeatedly fizzling out over the last decade, but renewed and widespread interest in the issue, coupled with Democratic control of the Senate, could create an easier path to passage this time around. 

Democrats have been much less vocal in their criticisms of DeJoy in recent months and, through his appointments to the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, President Biden has indicated he will not seek to oust the postmaster general. DeJoy briefly drew the ire of Republicans, who had allied with him and fully endorsed his 10-year plan, by launching a limited pilot program for financial services. The program undermined the trust DeJoy built with lawmakers during discussions over the bill, the top Republicans who negotiated the bill said last year. The pilot has serviced just six customers since its launch, though further expansion is still possible.  

Senate action is expected to quickly follow the House’s passage this month, according to one industry official made aware of internal plans, though an aide to Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and introduced the companion bill in the upper chamber, declined to confirm that timing. 

Peters has been “working closely” as part of a bipartisan and bicameral effort to move the bill, the aide said, including a push over the last several to months “to ensure this gets done.”