WASHINGTON—Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a markup on the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021 (H.R. 3076), which was introduced by Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).
In his opening statement, Ranking Member Comer commended the bipartisan efforts undertaken to help ensure the Postal Service is self-sufficient so it continues to provide service to the American people. He outlined the bill’s provisions to help improve the Postal Service’s operations and fiscal sustainability, and concluded by calling on Congress to support it.
Below are the remarks as prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Madam Chair. Before I begin my remarks. I think this process proves that this Committee can work together in a bipartisan way, and Congress can come together on bills that are necessary for the public.
When you talk about the Post Office, this is a service that just about every American has come to depend and rely on. And, it is something the American people expect to continue.
The health and efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service is one of the most important areas this Committee is responsible for overseeing.
Americans around the country, whether rural or in cities, rely on the Postal Service for their mail, bills, packages, medicine, newspapers, and many other areas of their lives.
Ensuring the continuation and success of the Postal Service is not a responsibility anyone on this Committee can take lightly, and coming up with solutions to the problems that face the Postal Service requires us to set aside politics and get the job done right for the American people.
I believe today’s bill—a bipartisan, realistic bill with a good chance of becoming law—fits that description of doing work for the people of this country.
Now, to be clear, it is not a bill that gives everyone everything they want.
Republicans, for example, have serious reservations about eliminating prefunding requirements for huge liabilities created by the Postal Service and shifting Postal Service retirees to Medicare, a program which itself is in need of reform.
But the status quo for the Postal Service is currently unsustainable. For over a decade, the Postal Service has been unable to even pay into the fund that required prefunding to begin with. Let me repeat that: For over a decade the Postal Service has not even paid into this fund because they haven’t had the funds to pay it. As DeJoy has said and his predecessor said, they’re not going to pay it because they don’t have the money to pay it because the Post Office is on an unsustainable path.
Republican and Democratic Postmasters General have repeatedly said and proven that the Postal Service cannot afford to exist with the financial burdens placed on it by law, and after months of talking with Postmaster General DeJoy, the Board of Governors, postal unions, the inspector general, and industry, I believe that is true.
But eliminating prefunding requirements and shifting Postal Service retirees to Medicare will not fix the Postal Service.
Wiping the Postal Service’s balance sheet clean does not get to the root of what caused these liabilities any more than a rich uncle paying an irresponsible nephew’s credit card bill fixes the underlying problem of a person who won’t live within his means.
If we simply passed a bill that cleaned up the Postal Service’s balance sheet, that would just kick the can down the road for another Congress to deal with this problem.
The Postal Service is meant to be a self-funded agency that does not rely on taxpayers’ money. It is required by law to be self-sufficient and to operate on the revenue it brings in.
The Postal Service’s problem is simple: it is spending more than it is making.
Revenue for the Postal Service must increase and costs must decrease if the Postal Service is to survive as it is currently intended.
And it must do so as people are sending almost half the amount of mail they were sending 20 years ago.
From the outset of negotiating this bill, Republicans have been clear: We will only support a postal reform bill if it addresses the operational and fundamental issues that are creating these problems.
The bill today is a compromise: Republicans will support remedying the present financial condition of the Postal Service in return for a future in which Congress doesn’t have to give it a bailout.
And I believe we have struck a good deal for everyone and ushers in a new era for the Postal Service based on reliability, transparency, and affordability.
Republicans have secured in this bill a new, transparent way for anyone from their laptop or phone to see if the Postal Service is meeting its delivery standards by ZIP code.
In this bill, Republicans have ensured rural Americans continue to have access to their local newspapers and not be forced to pick a national paper because the local paper went bankrupt.
Republicans have secured in this bill a transportation network that is efficient, reliable, and cost-effective to ensure rates remain as low as possible and mail is delivered on time.
We have also fought for and received assurance that the costs of magazines and catalogs, which Americans continue to enjoy, remains low and cannot be increased dramatically to make up for diminishing First-Class Mail.
Another Republican provision establishes reporting requirements for the Postal Service. It is one thing for the Postmaster General to release a plan; Republicans demand that the Postal Service follow through and inform Congress of that plan’s implementation.
Republicans have secured in this bill a cost accounting analysis that requires the Postal Service to attribute to its market-dominant and competitive products the cost and benefit of each. The Postal Service needs to know exactly what it costs to deliver every different type of package or mail piece that it has, and currently they cannot determine that.
In short, the bill before the Committee today is a significant and comprehensive approach to fixing the Postal Service, which has not had a significant bill pass Congress in 15 years.
There are some on the other side of the aisle who may believe this bill does not go far enough. That what the Postal Service needs is some sort of vast reworking, such as by getting into banking.
But I don’t believe that is what the American people want. I believe the American people are pretty happy with the Postal Service they know, and just want it to run on time and for a reasonable price when they go to the post office.
And banking at the post office, I’ll just say, is a bridge too far for Republicans and a solution in need of a problem with the arrival of online banking and other services.
The Postal Service needs to focus on what it does best: deliver the mail.
And I know that won’t make everyone happy. But that is the nature of compromise.
This bill presents a rare opportunity for this Committee to come together and work for the American people. I urge my colleagues to support it.
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Author: Amy Hasenberg