Two Congressional Bills You Should Know About

By Richard Thayer

I received an e-mail Tuesday from the NALC’s e-Activist Network regarding two pro-letter carrier bills that have been introduced in the House, both of which address the Postal Service’s current financial difficulties. These are two very important bills so you might want to take a minute out of your busy schedule and either call or e-mail your representative and ask them to support these.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) has introduced H.R. 1351: “The United States Postal Service’s Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011.” Whew! It seems that a real doozy of an accounting error  by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) a little while back resulted in the Postal Service being charged billions of dollars. That money has been squirreled away in the Civil Service Retirement System. It’s way more than it actually needs.

It would seem like this would be a rather simple problem to correct: the OPM’s accounting office made a boo-boo, put the decimal in the wrong place, overcharged the Postal Service by billions of dollars. Solution: Put the decimal in the right place, break out the calculator and figure out exactly how much is owed to the Postal Service and PAY them the amount they are owed.

But, alas, as we have seen, nothing is ever simple in Washington. Therefore it has become necessary to introduce a bill with a very long title to correct the error. And in all probability, getting the bill passed won’t be a simple matter either.

Although H.R. 1351 only addresses the CSRS and FERS overcharges and not the pre-funding payments to the Health Benefit Fund, its passage would be a step in the right direction. According to the NALC’s Fact Sheet on this bill:

“Lynch’s bill….takes a big step toward making sure the Postal Service is treated in a fair and equitable manner, allowing it to overcome the very difficult financial challenges it currently faces….The Lynch bill would transfer surplus CSRS and FERS assets paid for by ratepayer and employee contributions–not taxpayer funds–to the Postal Service’s retirement health fund, and it would have absolutely no effect on any current or future federal retirees’ annuity.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Gerry Connoly (D-VA) has introduced H.R. 1262 which, if passed, would allow the USPS to modernize its business model allowing it to expand mail volume and increase its revenue. Called the “Reform the Postal Service for the 21st Century Act,” the bill would provide alternatives to the short-sighted five-day delivery plan that the Postal Service has been espousing.

In effect, H.R. 1262 fills in the gaps left by H.R. 1351 and would help the Postal Service achieve financial stability. Among other things this bill would increase revenue by selling non-postal products in retail locations; pursue new marketing strategies to attract new business; co-locate postal facilities in other non-postal retail facilities; and replace its current vehicle fleet with Electronic Motor Vehicles (EMV).

I’m fairly certain that the components of both bills were heavily influenced by the NALC and not by the Postal Service.

At any rate, take a minute or two out of your hectic, helter-skelter schedule and let your representative know these are two bills that warrant their support, big time.

If it’s been a while since you’ve contacted your representative and you’re not sure who he or she is, not to worry. When you go to the above website all you have to do is enter your postal zip code and the website will tell you who your rep is. Ain’t technology wonderful?


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