Cummings Lauds Short-Term Extension to Address Postal Service’s Financial Challenges
Washington, DC – Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings today applauded a measure in the House Appropriations Fiscal Year 2012 Continuing Resolution (CR) that is similar to legislation he introduced to provide the U.S. Postal Service an extension on the payment it is statutorily required to make to prefund its retired employee health benefit fund. The CR extends by six weeks the date on which the Postal Service must make the payment, from September 30 to November 18.
“I am encouraged that we were able to work in a bipartisan way to insert this short-term provision,” said Cummings. “This extension will ensure that Congress has time to work together and with stakeholders on a comprehensive plan to improve the Postal Service’s long-term viability.”
Cummings, along with six other Members of Congress, introduced legislation last week that would postpone by 90 days the Postal Service’s $5.5 billion payment to the retiree health fund. This advance payment is required under the 2006 Postal Accountability Enhancement Act, which mandated that the Postal Service make accelerated annual payments to fully fund its anticipated retiree health care costs by 2016.
“Now, Congress needs to work quickly and carefully to develop innovative ways to ensure the Postal Service can compete in our 21st century economy and provide services relevant in a changing market,” added Cummings.
In the coming weeks, Cummings and other Members will introduce legislation to help the Postal Service return to profitability by adopting innovative solutions to increase revenue and cut costs. A variety of provisions are being considered, including measures to allow the Postal Service to enter into new lines of business, lease its properties, and right-size its workforce through retirement incentives. The legislation will also revise the current Postal Service retiree benefits payment schedule.
The six-week extension included in the CR will not affect the health care provided to retirees and will not in any way disrupt the daily delivery of mail or the operations of post offices or mail processing facilities. It simply extends the due date for the prepayment while Congress and the Administration continue to consider broader reforms.