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Schumer brings US Postal Service reform bill to the Senate floor

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Alex Brandon
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will begin voting this week on a reform bill to improve delivery times with the U.S. Postal Service. This follows a slowdown of mail delivery during the pandemic on Long Island and across the country.

In 2020, 91% of mail was delivered on time on Long Island. By the middle of last year, that number dipped to 83%. By the end of 2021, 89% of mail was delivered on time, according to a Newsday analysis.

The bill, which would be the Postal Service’s biggest reform in over a decade, would speed up delivery times by hiring more employees and buying better equipment. It would also require the post office to create an online dashboard where customers could see local and national delivery times.

Schumer said the slowdown affected small businesses and the delivery of pension checks and medication.

“If you’re an average person, if you’re a senior citizen who needs medication or your social security check, if you’re a small business, if you’re a person who is not of great needs, you depend on the postal service for your medicines and for your checks,” Schumer said. “There is good news for anyone who needs the mail and likes the mail.”

The bill is estimated to save the Postal Service about $50 billion over the course of the next 10 years. The federal agency would save $22.6 billion over a decade by having future retirees enrolling in Medicare and another $27 billion saved by getting rid of a mandate to pre-fund health benefits for employees about to retire. A House committee found that without the bill, the Postal Service would probably run out of money by 2024 following over a dozen years of deficits.

“It will bring $50 billion of needed funds to the post office so the mail will start being on time again and so we can deal with all of the issues,” Schumer said.

Some of the mail issues stem from relying on revenue from stamps and package deliveries since the agency doesn’t receive taxpayer funds. Also, Congress sets the postage rates, not the Postal Service, which is different from UPS and FedEx.

“This is my stamp of approval for postal reform and getting the post office moving again,” Schumer said.

Natalie is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.