Lawmakers Renew Bipartisan Push to End Much Maligned Payments Toward Future USPS Retiree Health Care

With powerful allies on board, lawmakers are optimistic they can finally get the reform across the finish line.

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers is once again pushing to remove mandatory payments toward the health benefits for future U.S. Postal Service retirees, aiming to eliminate a controversial requirement  upon which the cash-strapped mailing agency has defaulted for years.

Congress first established the prefunding mandate in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, the last major legislative overhaul of the Postal Service, and the requirement has hampered the agency ever since. Shortly after the law’s passage, the recession hit and mail volume began to decline precipitously. That trend has continued to this day, leaving USPS without the financial means to make the annual payments and forcing it to default on them while absorbing the losses on its balance sheet.

The USPS Fairness Act, introduced in the Senate this week by Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, would eliminate the billions of dollars in defaulted payments from the mailing agency’s books. The Postal Service would still be able to use the funds set aside for retirees’ health care until they are depleted.

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