The bad news for the mailing industry keeps on coming, dimming the prospects that the two-year-old postal rate hike that went into effect days ago will end.
On Thursday, the Senate committee on homeland security and government affairs voted 9-1 to advance to the Senate floor the Postal Reform Act, a bill sponsored by chairman and ranking member Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). In its current form, the bill would make permanent the emergency rate increase and give the U.S. Postal Service carte blanche the authority to set future rates.
Mailers were hopeful that a last-minute amendment sponsored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) that would keep the current pricing structure would pass and make the bill palatable, but the committee rejected it in a 10-5 vote.
"In rejecting this amendment, the committee has rubber-stamped ongoing postage rate hikes and greatly weakened the independent Postal Regulatory Commission, leaving the USPS as an essentially unregulated, government-sanctioned monopoly," said Mary Berner, president and CEO of MPA-The Association of Magazine Media. "These rate hikes will hurt businesses, cost thousands of people their jobs, and do nothing to right-size the USPS's bloated infrastructure."
The number of options for the mailing industry to fight the postal hike are dwindling. Last month the mailing industry filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals, a process that could take months.
Still, there's time to make changes before the bill hits the Senate floor, though when that will happen is unclear, given other priorities in both chambers. The House has been working on its own solution to fix the financially-strapped USPS.
"DMA is extremely disappointed in the outcome of today's markup of the postal reform bill. DMA will work closely with our Senate allies to improve this legislation for the mailing community. We extend our sincere thanks to Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for her leadership and support to the mailing community." said Peggy Hudson, the Direct Marketing Association's svp of government affairs, in a statement.