Postal Reform Bill Passes House, Senate
Consider it a postal and legislative version of “Do you believe in miracles?” Late on the night of Dec. 8 and into the early morning of Dec. 9, the House and then the Senate passed a sweeping postal reform bill that will bring forth significant change in the way that postal rates are set. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law sometime this week.
The bill’s passage culminates 11 years of prior failures to get a postal reform bill through both chambers of Congress.
Soon after the Senate passed the bill, H.R. 6407, the Direct Marketing Association Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale told Catalog Success: “We’re ecstatic. And the White House has already agreed to what’s in the bill, so we don’t expect any problems getting it signed into law,” he said. “We never gave up; everybody wanted this done.”
In brief, what this means to catalogers is as follows:
* Future postal rate hikes will be at or below the inflation rate. A cap for raising rates will be created by linking rate changes to increases in the consumer price index. This will give mailers the chance to know what’s coming and be better prepared for rate increases.
* The cumbersome and costly, nine-month-long rate case process will be eliminated, giving the Postal Service the ability to set new rates much quicker, but with oversight from a new government agency, the Postal Regulatory Commission. The commission would be able to alter the cap or the rate system if it sees fit. The USPS will have greater incentive to keep its costs in line.
“You don’t get passage of a comprehensive reform bill after 11 years without a lot of compromise from mailers and a bipartisan congress,” says Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council, an Arlington, Va.-based lobbying group. “Everybody has had to give up something to this point. And that’s why this bill was declared dead just recently.”