WASHINGTON, April 10 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed a U.S. Postal Service decision to shelve a plan to end Saturday mail delivery.
“This is good news for rural communities, businesses, seniors, veterans and others who depend on consistent and timely delivery of the mail,” Sanders said. “We all recognize that the Postal Service is experiencing financial problems, which is why I have offered comprehensive legislation to modernize the Postal Service and rescind an onerous requirement for it to pre-fund 75 years of future health care benefits for retirees.”
Citing a legal opinion by the Government Accountability Office, Sanders in a March 26 letter had urged Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to withdraw his plan to stop Saturday mail. Sanders said the opinion by the non-partisan GAO unambiguously declared that the Postal Service has no legal authority to end Saturday mail without the approval of Congress.
Sanders and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) on Feb. 13 introduced legislation to modernize the Postal Service, save Saturday mail and repeal a crippling law responsible for 80 percent of the mail system’s funding woes.
Under the legislation that now has 18 Senate cosponsors, the Postal Service would look for innovative new ways to make money by lifting legal bans on services such as notarizing documents. It also would clear the way for the Postal Service to help customers take advantage of email and Internet services. Sanders’ bill would create a commission composed of successful business innovators and representatives from small business and labor to make recommendations on other ways the Postal Service could generate new revenue and thrive in the 21st century.
A critical reform would rescind an onerous 2006 law pushed through a Republican-controlled House at the behest of President George W. Bush. Unlike any private business or other government agency, the law makes the post office pre-fund 75 years of future health care benefits for retirees over the course of 10 years. The $5.5 billion annual payments have been piling up in a fund that experts say already has more than enough in reserve. Since 2007, the pre-funding mandate is responsible for $4 out of every $5 in Postal Service debts.