(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a bill that will overhaul the United States Postal Service’s finances and guarantee six-day-a-week mail delivery moving forward.
The Postal Service Reform Act received overwhelming bipartisan support when it passed the Senate by a vote of 79-19 in March. With Biden’s signature, it becomes the most significant restructuring of the postal service’s balance sheet in more than a decade and is expected to save USPS tens of billions of dollars.
“Today we enshrine into law our recognition that the Postal Service is fundamental to our economy, to our democracy, to our health and the very sense of who we are as a nation,” Biden said Wednesday.
The biggest change will require postal workers to enroll in Medicare when they become eligible — undoing legislation in 2006 that mandated USPS annually pre-fund retiree health care costs. That change alone is expected to save the Postal Service as much as $50 billion over the next decade.
Without congressional action, USPS said it would have run out of money to cover operating expenses as soon as next year. The Postal Service has reported net losses of more than $90 billion since 2007. In February, it booked a quarterly net loss of $1.5 billion.
Supporters of the bill say it won’t completely fix the Postal Service’s financial problems but it’s a step in the right direction.
“It will strengthen the public postal service, that’s what the people of the country need — take care of some of the financial problems. It won’t fix all the challenges, but it’s a huge step forward.” WHO SAID THIS?
The legislation will also modernize the Postal Service, creating an online dashboard that will be searchable by zip code to show how long it takes for deliveries.
Those opposed to the bill fear the legislation will put additional burdens on Medicare and add to the federal deficit.
“This bill doesn’t reduce costs, it just shifts them from one unfunded government program to another unfunded government program,” said Florida Sen. Rick Scott, one of 19 Senate Republicans to vote against the bill.
But USPS rejected that argument and pointed out that postal retirees are simply collecting benefits they have already paid taxes to receive.
Postal reform advocates say USPS is an essential service, especially for underserved, hard to reach communities. And unlike private companies such as UPS and FedEx, the postal service cannot ignore unprofitable markets.
“It’s not perfect, nothing is around here. But it’s a whole lot better than the alternative and it does get the postal service back on track again,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
The new legislation comes as major players in the logistics industry including Amazon, UPS and FedEx continue to feel the economic tailwinds brought on by surging e-commerce sales.
Amazon has unveiled future plans to get some packages to customers in 30 minutes or less, even using delivery drones to do so.
It remains to be seen whether the Postal Service will keep pace with other logistics titans. USPS generates almost the entirety of its revenue from stamps and package deliveries.
The bill signing came the same day the Postal Service announced plans to raise the cost of a first class Forever Stamp by 2 cents to 60 cents in July.