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House Republican bill would dismantle Postal Service: Alaska Democratic Party press release

Slash-and-burn GOP bill attacks universal mail service, door-to-door delivery, and Alaska bypass mail

ANCHORAGE:  On a party-line vote, Republicans in the House of Representatives’ Oversight and Reform Committee passed legislation to dismantle the Postal Service, end 6-day mail service, end door-to-door mail delivery, break existing contracts with Postal Service employees, and gut Alaska’s bypass mail service.  In order to become law, this legislation (H.R. 2748) also would have to pass the full House and the Senate.

“Congress caused the Postal Service’s financial crisis, and Congress should fix it.  Unfunded mandates like retirement prefunding shouldn’t be used as an excuse to attack Postal Service unions and the critical services they provide,” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.

America’s founding fathers established the Postal Service in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.  For two centuries, Congress and the Postal Service have attempted to provide “Universal Service” to communities across America, meaning that both urban and rural communities will receive mail.  By contrast, private mail companies do not deliver in most rural areas unless they contract with the Postal Service.  In Alaska, bypass mail is a critical means of communications and commerce. Section 5404 of the House Republican bill would gut bypass mail service, in violation of Universal Service principles.

Title II and Title III of the House Republican bill would dismantle the Postal Service using a bankruptcy-type authority.  A new bureaucracy would force the Postal Service to reduce mail service significantly, eliminate many of its facilities, and break contracts with or lay off its employees. The Postal Service has already eliminated over 100,000 Postal Service jobs through attrition.  One in five Postal Service employees is a veteran.  More than 1,500 Alaskans work for the Postal Service.

The Postal Service is in dire financial straits primarily because Congress voted in 2006 to require that the Postal Service prefund 40 years of retirement and retirees’ health costs within 10 years.  No other public or private entity in America is required to prefund 100% of its anticipated retirement and retirement health costs.  By comparison, AAA-rated public agencies generally prefund 80% of anticipated retirement costs and Fortune 500 companies prefund 33% of them.  This onerous and unprecedented requirement created over $20 billion of red ink for the Postal Service.  If Congress has not imposed this unfunded mandate, the Postal Service would have continued to run surpluses throughout the recent recession.  H.R. 2748, the House Republican bill, does not fix this unfunded mandate.  Instead, it uses a problem caused by Congress as an excuse to dismantle the Postal Service.

Numerous Postal Service experts recommend allowing the Postal Service to partner with the private sector and sell non-postal products and services to diversify the Postal Service’s revenue stream.  The House Republican bill ignores this advice and maintains prohibitions on such partnerships with the private sector.

Last year, the Senate passed bipartisan Postal Service reform legislation which would have fixed the unfunded mandate for retirement prefunding, eliminated red tape which stops the Postal Service from earning new revenue, and protected 6 day mail service, door to door delivery, and Alaska bypass mail.  House Republicans refused to consider this bipartisan legislation (S. 1789).

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