Members of the U.S. House and Senate, led by Illinois Senator Richard Durbin and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, held a conference call recently with Postmasters across the country to discuss legislative efforts in Congress to protect the postal service.
Last week the Senate passed a Postal Service Reform Bill. Democrats supporting the Senate provisions held a conference call to support the measure and vilify the House proposal as devastating, with the potential to destroy the postal service. Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders slammed the House considerations, saying the Postal Service must be protected from being dismantled.
The Senate bill has a number of provisions to ease the financial strain the Postal Service is under, including lowering the amount that must be put into future retiree health benefits and allowing it to take money out of the fund, which has 44 billion dollars, to pay for current retiree health benefits. The Senate measure would save about half of the proposed rural post offices from closure according to Senator Sanders.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Democratic Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly said the Senate produced a bill that creates needed protections for post offices.
Postmasters from across the country posed numerous questions for the panel, from the impact of possible cutbacks on postal employees, to health plans.
The Postmaster General has agreed to withhold any action until May 15th.