WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - North country congresswoman Elise Stefanik is backing legislation which would solve much of the deep money problem the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) faces.
Stefanik is cosponsoring legislation which would get rid of a requirement that the Postal Service set aside money to pay for retiree health care 50 years in advance.
It’s a requirement no other part of government, nor any private company has, and which costs the Postal Service $5 billion a year.
Ironically, the requirement that the Postal Service “prefund” health care expenses was partly the work of former north country congressman John McHugh, who cosponsored the legislation mandating the set-aside, and which was signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2006.
The Postal Service has run huge deficits and is more than $160 billion in debt, just from what it owes in prepaid health benefits. That’s on top of losing money in its day-to-day operations as consumer behavior has shifted away from using physical mail to email and texts.
In a statement Thursday, Stefanik’s office noted that “Estimates suggest the USPS would have been deficit-free for the past six years if it were not for this one mandate.”
“The USPS provides essential services for our North Country communities, families, veterans, and seniors. The urgent financial issues that it faces must be addressed to ensure it can continue operating smoothly,” Stefanik said in the statement.
“I am proud to cosponsor the USPS Fairness Act and offer a tangible solution that will put the USPS on a solid path to greater fiscal stability and a stronger future.”
THE USPS Fairness Act - as the legislation is known - passed the House of Representatives last February with strong support from both Republicans and Democrats. But it never came to a vote in the Senate, so it would have to be approved again by the new Congress.