Postal Reform: Nothing Will Come of Nothing

Any hopes of meaningful legislative reform in this Congress disappeared while watching the Senate hearing on the Presidential Task Force on the United States Postal System. Then the outlook got dimmer during the confirmation hearings for the President’s latest nominees to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors.

Throughout the hearings, the senators’ lack of knowledge about the USPS was on full display. Members confused ratepayers with taxpayers, claimed losses on systems that were making money, and repeatedly admitted they wish they had more information. They do have staffs that could do research, but that would take real commitment to solving the problems. A cynic might think that our senators are intentionally doing nothing to manufacture a crisis.

The one issue that seemed to bring both sides together was the dependence of rural communities on the USPS. One by one, the senators confirmed their commitment to protecting delivery to their constituents who live outside of the cities and suburbs. However, there seemed to be questions over how often those deliveries should take place.

It’s not to say that there haven’t been any bills filed in the 116th Congress regarding the postal service. Since January 2019, there have been 44 bills or resolutions focused on the USPS. 20 of those were to provide new names for post offices, and 8 were related to stamps. The other 16 focused on operational changes or were resolutions “expressing the sense of Congress” on door delivery, service levels, etc. Not a single bill on legislative reform of the USPS or how it finances retiree benefits.

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