USPS needs more COVID relief, House Dems say

Several House members sent a letter to both House and Senate leadership urging them to include meaningful relief for the United States Postal Service in the next round of COVID-19 response legislation.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act did not include any emergency funding for USPS, rather allowing it to borrow up to an additional $10 billion.

However, the members wrote, this “increased lending authority is insufficient to ensure that the Postal Service can continue to operate.” As the fallout from the coronavirus continues, the Postal Service projects a possible 50% decline in mail volume until the end of the current fiscal year, the letter said.  The legislators added that one USPS estimate indicated that additional borrowing would only allow the Postal Service to stay afloat through the end of this summer. 

The letter, written by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the chairman of that committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations, along with several other House members, contrasted USPS’ position to the airline industry, which received approximately $110,000 per employee in relief from the CARES Act. That yardstick, had it been applied to USPS, would have delivered significantly more, they said.

“If Congress recognizes that the Postal Service is as critical to the American economy and infrastructure as the passenger airline industry, the Postal Service would have been provided $68 billion rather than just a fraction of that in borrowing authority that does not even result in a guaranteed loan from the Department of the Treasury,” the letter said.

With mail delivery playing an increasingly important role during the pandemic for Americans staying at home and its potential to support the growing call for vote-by-mail options, the House members reminded leadership that postal employees “are on the frontlines of this crisis, delivering essential information, packages, and services to the American people. We cannot afford to lose this massive infrastructure, with access to every resident and business in the country.”

The letter closed by urging leadership to include $25 billion in direct appropriations and debt relief, appropriate up to $250 million per year to cover unfunded mandates, require that postal employees enroll in Medicare and allow the Postal Service to conduct more non-postal business, particularly with state and local governments.

Read the full letter here.

Reader comments

Thu, Apr 9, 2020 Patrick O'Rourke

The basic business model of the USPS must change. Whatever relief will be proposed still leaves the agency in over $100 billion in debt since their reorganization in 1970, according to their recent financial statement.

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