USPS would face tougher climb to hike rates under new House bill
BY MARK KELLNER | THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Twice-yearly postal rate increases could be reined in if a bill introduced in the House becomes law.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, Virginia Democrat, has authored the “Ensuring Accurate Postal Rates Act,” a measure requiring the independent Postal Regulatory Commission to re-examine the U.S. Postal Service’s authority to raise rates twice a year and above the rate of inflation. He introduced the measure Friday.
On July 10, the USPS raised the one-ounce first class mail rate from 58 cents to 60 cents, and has indicated rate hikes will take place more frequently. In August, the agency said it would implement “temporary rate adjustments” for commercial and retail mailers of “key package products” for the 2022 holiday season, similar to previous years.
In February, President Biden signed legislation ending a years-long requirement that the quasi-governmental corporation pre-fund retiree health benefits and eliminating existing debts for such payments. In August, the USPS reported net income of $59.7 billion for its third fiscal year quarter, crediting the Postal Service Reform Act with the change.
“The new economic picture for the Postal Service warrants a reexamination of the Postal Service’s authority to rapidly increase the cost of its products and services to ensure all individuals, families, and businesses can access postal services at a fair price,” Mr. Connolly said via email.
A USPS spokesman told The Washington Times the agency is “in the process of reviewing the proposed legislation,” but says it does not believe the measure is necessary. In a recent interview with Government Executive magazine, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said raising rates on large mailers is essential.
“Boy, I’d love to be Mr. Great Guy who didn’t raise the prices and didn’t change a thing, yet all of a sudden had the place profitable,” Mr. DeJoy, who was appointed to his post in 2020, told the publication. “It doesn’t get done that way. It doesn’t get done without making change.”
Along with Mr. Connolly, a mailer’s advocacy group said Republican Reps. Jake La Turner of Kansas and Sam Graves of Missouri are co-sponsoring the bill.
Kevin Yoder, executive director of Keep US Posted, a lobbying group, said it supports the Connolly bill.
“If DeJoy’s frequent postage hikes are allowed to take place, Americans could soon be paying well over $1 to mail a single letter, and mail-dependent industries will suffer,” Mr. Yoder, a former Republican Congressman from Kansas, said in a statement. “We can’t let the Postal Service sabotage itself by driving industries out of business and driving consumers away from using the mail.”
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