Politics

Six-days-a-week mail delivery saved; Biden signs Postal bill

WASHINGTON – A sweeping overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service supposed to shore up the preferred however beleaguered company’s monetary long term and cement six-days-a-week mail supply was once signed into legislation Wednesday by means of President Joe Biden.

The law cleared Congress final month after absolutely a dozen years of dialogue that took on a brand new sense of urgency amid popular proceedings about mail provider delays. Officials had many times warned that with out congressional motion, the Postal Service would run out of money by means of 2024.

“The Postal Service is central to our economy and essential to rural America,” Biden mentioned. He added that mailmen and girls ship 4 million prescriptions consistent with day, along side letters, shopper items or even are living animals, “often to parts of the country that private carriers can’t or won’t or aren’t required to reach.”

The ultimate law accomplished uncommon, bipartisan improve by means of scrapping one of the crucial extra arguable proposals and deciding on core techniques to save lots of the provider. Delivering the mail is likely one of the hottest issues the federal government does, with 91% of Americans having a good opinion of the Postal Service, consistent with a Pew Research Center ballot launched in 2020.

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The invoice signing got here the similar day the Postal Service introduced it plans to boost charges efficient July 10. Under the proposal submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission, the price of a firstclass Forever stamp would building up by means of 2 cents to 60 cents.

The Postal Service mentioned the rise, which is not up to the yearly price of inflation, will assist the company enforce Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan to stabilize company funds.

Lawmakers from each events attended the signing rite and the temper was once jovial, a large development from Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran up to now announcing the provider was once in a “death spiral” that was once in particular exhausting on rural Americans.

The Postal Service Reform Act lifts finances necessities that experience contributed to the company’s purple ink, and spells out that mail will have to be delivered six days per week, aside from for federal vacations, herbal screw ups and a few different scenarios.

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Postage gross sales and different products and services have been intended to maintain the Postal Service, nevertheless it has suffered 14 directly years of losses. Growing employee reimbursement and get advantages prices, plus stable declines in mail quantity, have exacerbated losses, even because the provider delivers to at least one million further places annually.

The new legislation ends a demand that the Postal Service finance employees’ well being care advantages forward of time for the following 75 years — a duty that personal firms and federal businesses don’t face. Biden mentioned that rule had “stretched the Postal Service’s finances almost to the breaking point.”

Now, future retirees will enroll in Medicare, while other health plans and the Postal Service cover only current retirees’ actual health care costs that aren’t paid for by the federal health insurance program for older people,

“In recent years we saw how unfair policies forced this treasured institution to cut costs and delayed the delivery of medication, financial documents and other critical mail,” Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, who helped write the law, mentioned in a observation. “These long overdue reforms will undo these burdensome financial requirements.”

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To measure the agency’s progress in improving its service, the law requires it to set up an online dashboard that would be searchable by ZIP code to show how long it takes to deliver letters and packages.

Dropped from the package as it neared actual legislation were efforts to cut back mail delivery. Also set aside — for now — were other proposals that have been floated over the years to change operations, including to privatize some services.

Criticism of the Postal Service peaked in 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis and ahead of the presidential election, as cutbacks delayed service at a time when millions of Americans were relying on mail-in ballots during the pandemic. Then-President Donald Trump acknowledged he was trying to financially pinch the service to limit its processing ability for an expected surge of mail-in ballots, which he worried could cost him the election he eventually lost.

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Dominated by means of Trump appointees, the company’s board of governors had tapped DeJoy, a big GOP donor, as postmaster normal. He proposed a 10-year plan to stabilize the service’s finances with steps like additional mail slowdowns, cuts in some offices’ hours and perhaps higher rates.

Biden said Wednesday that more needs to be done to reform the Postal Service, including investing in an electrified vehicle fleet that could save money while helping combat climate change. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is examining a Postal Service contract to replace its huge fleet of mail-delivery trucks with a mix of gas and electric vehicles, which the Environmental Protection Agency and Democratic lawmakers argue has too few electric vehicles.

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“Today we enshrine into law our recognition that the Postal Service is fundamental to our economy, to our democracy, to our health and the very sense of who we are as a nation,” Biden mentioned.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This subject material will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.



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