(WASHINGTON) — A bipartisan group of 20 senators introduced legislation Wednesday to provide financial relief to the struggling U.S. Postal Service while tightening accountability for mail delivery.
The bill would provide the Postal Service with $46 billion in financial relief over 10 years, repeal $5 billion a year in mandatory retiree health care expenses, and require all future postal retirees to enroll in Medicare.
The legislation, which is identical to a version that passed in the House last week, also includes plans for the Postal Service to develop a public online mail delivery performance dashboard where customers can view the agency’s on-time delivery metrics by zip code each week.
“Millions of Americans and Michiganders, including seniors, veterans, and small business owners, rely on the Postal Service to deliver,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., the chairman of the panel that oversees the Postal Service, said in a statement. “For decades, the Postal Service has struggled to overcome unfair and burdensome financial requirements that risk its ability to continue providing reliable service in the long run.”
The Postal Service, which has posted major financial losses over the last several years, recently reported a loss of $1.9 billion for 2020 and a net loss of $82 million for the second quarter of this year.
“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.
If passed, the bill “will be a major step forward for financial sustainability of the Postal Service,” a spokesperson for the Postal Service told ABC News.
American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein praised the bill, telling ABC News that it marks a big step forward for Postal Service reform and financial relief.
“The post office is not a partisan issue,” the union leader said. “People around the country, throughout the political spectrum and throughout the geographic reach, have tremendous support, love and trust in the public postal service and postal workers.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Postal Service has seen the use of its mail services decline along with other revenue. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has testified multiple times before Congress over the last year regarding the declining quality of the agency’s delivery service.
DeJoy, a former logistics company executive, oversaw an overhaul of the mail agency last year that prompted accusations that he was undermining mail-in voting ahead of the 2020 presidential election. As a Republican donor and fundraiser, DeJoy contributed $2 million to Trump and various Republican causes over the past two election cycles, and last year also gave more than $360,000 to the Trump Victory fund, a joint fundraising committee between the Trump campaign and the Republican Party, records show.
“I’ve made it clear — we need fresh leadership at our Postal Service, especially in the wake of Trump’s antagonism toward the agency and Postmaster General DeJoy’s disastrous rollout of mail changes last year,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said of the bill in a statement.
Because DeJoy can only be removed by the Postal Service’s board of governors, Duckworth and a number of other Democrats have been calling on President Joe Biden to replace the entire board in order to oust DeJoy.
Last month, the Senate confirmed two of Biden’s three picks to the agency’s board, a move that critics of DeJoy hoped would mark the beginning of the end for the embattled mail chief.
“I hope that with new leadership on the Board, we can begin working to build back a better Postal Service that once again is trusted by Veterans, small businesses and all Americans that depend on this service to connect them with families, communities and vital services throughout the nation and across the world,” Duckworth said Wednesday.
DeJoy, who has apologized repeatedly for the slow pace of mail delivery during his tenure, nevertheless appears determined to stay in his role, telling lawmakers in February, “Get used to me.”
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