Government affairs

Legislative Updates

NALC Calls On Congress to Fund USPS During Covid-19 Pandemic

Throughout the legislative response to the Covid-19 virus, NALC has sought to support the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) through talks and engagement with Congressional leadership. USPS is uniquely vulnerable to what is both a public health and economic crisis yet critical to our country’s ability to weather and recover from it. To that end, NALC has called on Congress repeatedly to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Postal Service through the series of emergency stimulus packages it has put forward.

Unfortunately, the most recent legislative package passed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, H.R. 748) did not offer the same kind of support for the Postal Service that it did for airlines ($61 billion), private cargo shippers ($17 billion) and other corporations ($425 billion). It provided $10 billion in new debt authority, subject to control by the Treasury Department’s Federal Finance Bank (FFB). This legislation was wholly inadequate, as outlined in NALC’s recent white paper (viewable here) and letters sent to Democratic and Republican leadership (viewable here and here) earlier this week.

In it, NALC explains why $10 billion in new debt authority will not help USPS weather this storm and lays out the necessary provisions that must be included the next stimulus bill. These measures should:

  1. Make a direct "public service" appropriation of at least $25 billion to the Postal Service to help it weather the pandemic and the deep recession it is causing. Although the Postal Service has not received taxpayer appropriations (other than for military/overseas voting and free mail for the blind) since the early 1980s, the present crisis warrants such appropriations now.
  2. Authorize an emergency “public service” appropriation for the duration of the crisis, distributed quarterly, starting in Fiscal Year 2021 (which begins in just six months) to cover the difference between postage revenues and total USPS expenses. This would signal to the American people and the business community that the Postal Service will be there to: battle the pandemic (with the delivery of tests and public health information, etc.); deliver online purchases and prescription drugs; support the economic recovery; and facilitate absentee voting as well as other vital civic functions.
  3. Provide a mechanism to reimburse the Postal Service for the cost of the Covid-19-related leave(both sick leave and family medical leave) provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127).
  4. Ensure equal treatment for postal employees in any legislation that authorizes, and funds hazard pay for other front-line workers exposed to health risks related to the Covid-19 virus. Such legislation should cover postal workers, who face heightened exposure risks to the virus on a daily basis.
  5. Remove the Federal Finance Bank’s discretion to impose operational changes and policy conditions on any of the Postal Service’s existing borrowing authorities – changes and policies that should properly be set by the Postal Service Board of Governors and the Congress, not the Treasury Department – and eliminate any annual limit on these authorities. (These authorities are provided by Section 2005 of Title 39 and Section 6001 of the CARES Act of 2020.)

As NALC explained, all American leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike, should work together to ensure that this pandemic does not destroy the U.S. Postal Service, a true national treasure and a vital part of America’s response and eventual recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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