The bipartisan bill would provide USPS with financial relief to help offset losses caused by COVID-19 and help put the agency on the path to long-term solvency
Washington, D.C.—In a bipartisan effort to support the U.S. Postal Service, which has experienced significant declines in first-class and marketing mail volume due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation today that would help shore up the agency’s finances to ensure it survives the current national crisis. The legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Jon Tester (D-MT).
The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act would provide USPS with up to $25 billion to cover revenue losses or operational expenses resulting from COVID-19. Prior to using the funds, the Postal Service would need to certify in its quarterly and annual reports to the Postal Regulatory Commission that the funds are needed to cover COVID-19-related losses or operational expenses. Senators Collins and Feinstein’s bill would also clarify the borrowing authority provided in the CARES Act and require the Board of Governors to transmit to Congress a plan to ensure the long-term solvency of USPS.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our daily lives in fundamental ways, and the Postal Service is needed now more than ever. The agency’s dedicated employees go to work each day, facing increased risk as they continue to ensure reliable delivery of needed prescriptions, safety-net benefits, and other critical services that might otherwise be unavailable,” said Senator Collins. “The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act would ensure the Postal Service is able to continue fulfilling its essential mission, while also providing for responsible stewardship of taxpayer funds and laying the groundwork to put the Postal Service on a path to long-term viability. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”
“Amid the pandemic, Americans have been increasingly reliant on the Postal Service, particularly small businesses and those living in rural areas. But the Postal Service is struggling financially because of increased costs and an overall decline in revenue during the pandemic,” said Senator Feinstein. “Congress must provide emergency funding for the Postal Service just as it has for other essential industries. We cannot let so vital an agency fail.”
The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act is supported by: the American Postal Workers Union, Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, National Active and Retired Federal Employees, National Association of Postal Supervisors, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the Package Coalition, the PRINTING United Alliance, and United Postmasters and Managers of America.
“The United Postmasters and Managers of America (UPMA) applauds Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for introducing the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act. The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated the underlying financial challenges that have existed at the USPS for far too long,” said Daniel Heins, President of UPMA. “Senators Collins and Feinstein understand that we need a strong USPS that provides service to citizens and businesses but does it in a financially stable way. We thank them for including in the legislation a mandate for the USPS to develop a long-term solvency plan to ensure that the USPS makes it not only through this crisis, but to a stronger more viable future. As senior members of the Appropriations Committee we are confident with Senators Collins and Feinstein at the table as the Senate develops its next Covid-19 response legislation. We are proud that they are fighting to get this bill included and stand with them in our full support.”
“The NRLCA would like to thank Senator Collins and Senator Feinstein for introducing this much needed emergency relief bill for the Postal Service and for recognizing that rural letter carriers and others have provided essential services, at great risk to themselves, during the COVID 19 pandemic,” said Ronnie Stutts, president of the NRLCA. “Unfortunately, the ability of rural letter carriers and other Postal employees to continue the heroic daily work of ensuring that essential items such as medicines, testing kits, PPE, and relief payments get to customers throughout the country safely and efficiently is in jeopardy. Even with the recent spike in package delivery, it is not a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ the Postal Service will run out of money without additional funding, support, and Congressional action. The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act is an essential step in providing much need emergency relief to enable Postal workers to continue delivering without interruption during these unprecedented times.”
“NAPS applauds and fully supports the introduction of the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA),” said National Association of Postal Supervisors Executive Vice President Ivan Butts. “This critical, timely legislation speaks directly to the voice of America for the sustainability of the Postal Service as an essential service provider of medicines and other goods in today's environment.”
“Because the U.S. Postal Service has kept delivering through the pandemic, it’s easy to overlook that the economic ramifications of COVID-19 ripped through it, leading to a sharp decline in business-related mail volume and a projected loss that could still compromise or even destroy our postal system within the next 12 months,” said Art Sackler, manager of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, an organization of public and private companies, trade associations and other industry groups. “Without the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act, recovering businesses large and small could lose affordable, reliable shipment options when they need them most, and more importantly, rural Americans could lose a lifeline.”
“As the United States Postal Service, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU), and all postal employees continue to respond to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, NPMHU is grateful for the support of Senators Collins and Feinstein to ensure the sustainability of the Postal Service during this time,” said Paul Hogrogian, National President of NPMHU. “This national health crisis has shown the intrinsic value of the Postal Service and the Senators’ efforts will provide the necessary financial resources to endure this difficult time.”
Specifically, the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act would:
· Provide USPS with up to $25 billion in emergency COVID-19 funding, while ensuring that these funds are used only for COVID-19-related losses and expenses.
o These funds would be appropriated to a newly created “Postal Service COVID-19 Emergency Fund” and would be available until September 30, 2022.
o Prior to using the funds, USPS would be required to certify in its quarterly and audited annual reports to the Postal Regulatory Commission that the funds are needed to cover revenue losses or operational expenses resulting from COVID-19. Congress would also be sent a copy of these reports.
o USPS would be required to prioritize the purchase of personal protective equipment and conduct additional cleaning and sanitizing of its facilities and vehicles.
· Clarify the borrowing authority provided in the CARES Act to indicate that the Treasury Secretary shall lend the funds at the request of USPS and set the terms and conditions of the loan as those in place on September 29, 2018.
· Require the new Postmaster General and the Board of Governors to transmit to Congress a plan to ensure the long-term solvency of USPS.
o The plan would be due to Congress no later than nine months after the bill’s enactment.
o The USPS would be required to provide an update briefing to Congress no later than six months after the bill’s enactment.
In May, Senators Collins and Feinstein led a bipartisan letter urging Senate Leadership to include relief for the Postal Service in the next COVID-19 package, including emergency funding, additional borrowing authority, and debt forgiveness. The letter also called for the next package to include funding for personal protective equipment, reimbursement for sick and family medical leave related to COVID-19, and hazard pay for certain front-line postal workers who face exposure to the virus simply through doing their jobs.