Mailer groups are hopeful that Congress can pass legislation to resolve the U.S. Postal Service’s old pension obligations in time to avert a new rate case, which could be introduced as soon as next month.
In the meantime, they’re continuing to strongly urge their constituents to write their members of Congress to help make sure this legislation gets passed as soon as possible.
“The only way this is going happen is if mailers write their members of Congress,” said Neal Denton, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers.
“We’re continuing to urge our members to educate their members of Congress,” said Louis Mastria, spokesman or the Direct Marketing Association.
Late last year, the USPS discovered it had substantially overpaid the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) fund that pays its retirees and the federal Office of Personnel Management and General Accounting Office later confirmed this. But in order for the USPS to be able to use this money for other purposes legislation must be enacted to authorize them to do so.
On Wednesday, the Senate Government Affairs Committee marked up S 380, the bill introduced recently by Sen. Susan Collins, (R-ME) with an amendment by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) that would give the USPS more latitude in how it spends any extra money it would receive from resolution of this issue.
“This is better than the house bill which has language the USPS finds objectionable that would let the [U.S.] Department of the Treasury just take away the excess money,” said Gene Del Polito, president of the Association of Postal Commerce.
On Thursday, House Government Reform Committee will begin considering the House version of the bill , H.R. 773, introduced by Rep. John McHugh (R-NY).
It was unclear at deadline when the House Committee would finish its work on the McHugh bill.
If this legislation gets passed, the USPS could save $2.9 billion in fiscal year 2003 and $2.8 billion in fiscal year 2004, possibly averting a rate increase until 2006 (DIRECT Newsline, Nov. 5, 2002).
Despite the seeming slowness of this process, some mailer groups think it’s going at lightning speed.
“The [Senate] bill moved through the committee almost unanimously and with no opposition,” said Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council. “That almost never happens in Washington.”
But it’s not over yet. The house bill must get marked up and passed by the Committee. Then, a joint House-Senate Conference Committee must take up the bill before it can go to President Bush for his signature.
It’s anybody’s guess whether this can be done before the USPS has to file its next rate case.