Congress Approves USPS Overhaul Legislation, Earning Applause From Retail Industry
A bill that aims to provide long sought-after financial stability for the United States Postal Service is heading to President Biden's desk after Congress passed it with bipartisan support Tuesday. The federal agency has been on the brink of insolvency for years, and received an additional blow beginning in 2020, when a series of operational changes and cost-cutting measures before the presidential election caused mail delays.
The legislation removes the requirement that the Postal Service pay its employees' retiree healthcare benefits in advance — which had been in place since 2006 — and instead requires retired employees to enroll in Medicare when they're eligible. Lawmakers and agency officials estimated that would save the agency $50 billion over a decade, according to The New York Times.
The proposed law also mandates a delivery standard of six days a week, and sets new agency transparency standards, including regular reports to Congress about the agency's financials and delivery data. This is the first major postal reform legislation approved by Congress in more than 15 years, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), who welcomed the bill Tuesday.
"With the continued growth in e-commerce and pandemic-driven shopping trends, it's more important than ever to have a healthy and reliable postal system that delivers to every ZIP code," David French, NRF's senior vice president for government relations, said in a statement. "The reforms made in the bill will update the Postal Service for the modern economy and complement current USPS initiatives to provide services and solutions to retailers of all sizes. We applaud the efforts of the bill’s sponsors and co-sponsors, who fostered bipartisan support throughout the legislative process."
Total Retail's Take: Retailers were hit hard by Postal Service delays, with shipping costs doubling for some businesses in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing supply chain issues. The delays hit small businesses especially hard. Tuesday's news likely comes as potential welcome relief for the retail industry, particularly as third-party carriers continue to raise rates.