Bipartisan Postal Relief Bill Introduced in Senate
July 2, 2020
Today, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the “Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act” (S. 4174) to provide funding to the Postal Service to help offset Covid-related financial losses.
Primarily, the bill would provide $25 billion in direct relief to the agency through establishment of a “Postal Service Covid-19 Emergency Fund” to make up the difference between revenue and expenses during the pandemic, making the fund available through September 30, 2022.
Notably, the bill makes clear that the $10 billion Treasury loan approved in the CARES Act, (read more here) would be subject to the terms and conditions agreed to in the note purchase agreement between the Postal Service and Federal Financing Bank from September 29, 2018. The inclusion of these terms would be far more favorable than the rumored terms and conditions that the Department of Treasury is insisting on but refusing to make public in order to access the funds.
The provisions outlined above are consistent with NALC’s immediate priorities related to Covid-19 and are similar to provisions contained in the HEROES Act, which passed the House in June.
Unlike the House-passed postal provisions contained in the HEROES Act, S. 4174 would direct the Postal Service to report to Congress that funds are being used for the sole purpose of Covid, an acceptable requirement to NALC. Unfortunately, the bill includes language that cites lost volume as the principle cause for Postal Service losses, which does not depict the entire picture. The requirement to prefund retiree health benefits is the principle cause of the Postal Service’s financial condition, leaving it more vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. In addition, S. 4174 included unnecessary language regarding a 10-year plan that is already underway. Despite those minor shortcomings, this legislation is an important marker.
While NALC has not endorsed any particular relief package, including S. 4174, we continue to lobby aggressively for direct financial relief and favorable loan terms and conditions as outlined above. NALC is hopeful that the bipartisan and bicameral calls for immediate financial relief will be part of the conversation between House and Senate leadership and the White House when negotiations over the next relief package are expected to resume later this month.
NALC members should continue to call on members in the House and Senate to include relief in the next package. Click here for our fact sheet and here to contact your member of Congress.