The much anticipated Postal Reform Act was passed by the United States Congress yesterday. Among other things, according to Congress.gov, the bill addresses the finances and operations of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), especially regarding health benefits plans for USPS employees and retirees.
According to The Washington Post, President Biden is expected to sign the $107 billion overhaul, “providing monetary relief for the agency that leaders say will allow it to modernize and invest in efficient service.” The reforms are anticipated to provide financial stability to help the agency deliver reliable and accessible service across the country.
That should be welcome news for retailers, particularly those in ecommerce, that rely on the USPS to both receive and ship goods. The National Retail Federation welcomed this passage of the first major postal reform legislation approved by Congress in more than 15 years.
“The U.S. Postal Service has long played a key role in ensuring that retailers can deliver products to consumers wherever they live across the entire country,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “With the continued growth in e-commerce and pandemic-driven shopping trends, it is more important than ever to have a healthy and reliable postal system that delivers to every ZIP code. The reforms made in the bill will update the Postal Service for the modern economy and complement current USPS initiatives to provide services and solutions to retailers of all sizes. We applaud the efforts of the bill’s sponsors and cosponsors, who fostered bipartisan support throughout the legislative process.”
Some critics suggest, however, that while the reform will help the USPS deal with its financial issues, that it has missed the mark by pushing employees into “a new, less expensive health plan and by enrolling more postal workers into Medicare upon retirement. The bill also abolishes the mandate that the Post Office prefund its retirees’ health care costs, which adds red ink to USPS balance sheets but did build a $40 billion nest egg for retirees” (Politico). The writer also points out that this bill does not address the agency infrastructure upgrades required to address increased ecommerce parcel volume.