Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 delayed in Senate with error, to be brought up again in March

Mar 1, 2022

Congress missed an opportunity in February to finally sew up the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, legislation nearly 10 years in the making. After passing the House with a bipartisan vote, HR 3076 met a procedural snarl in the Senate when the House sent over the wrong bill for a vote.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, defeated an attempt to fix the error with a unanimous procedural vote. By the time the error was corrected and the necessary notices for the next vote were executed, the Senate was in its Presidents’ Day recess. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said the bill would be brought up again in early March.

NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, said the delay was disappointing but that NNA’s Congressional Action Team was hard at work to bring the bill to final enactment before spring break. After the bill is signed into law, the Postal Regulatory Commission would have next action to revise the authority it gave USPS to enact substantial rate increases. The main rationale for the rate authority was to retire the hefty debt carried by USPS to fund future retiree health benefits. HR 3076 would shift some of that cost to Medicare and re-amortize the remaining debt to make the funding mandate more consistent with the rest of the federal government.

Meanwhile, NNA joined the National Postal Policy Council, the American Catalog Mailers Association, the Major Mailers Association and News Media Alliance in February in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The mailers asked the Court to reverse a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that affirmed the PRC’s power to exceed the pricing limitations in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.

Wesner said: “While NNA fully understands the pressure facing USPS, we don’t think the Congress in 2006 anticipated giving the PRC a free rein to lift the price cap. Congress expected USPS to engage in more rigorous cost controls to keep universal service intact. As always, we work cooperatively with USPS to do our part to make mail affordable. But the legal question about the pricing authority is one that the Supreme Court should answer, in our view.”