from The Stamp Collector
written by Jennifer Lanthier
illustrations by François Thisdale
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2012
(accessed on YouTube May 29, 2022)
Since my dad was a philatelist, I’ve always been aware of postage stamps. I’ve written about the United States Postal Service (USPS) in this space before (7/28/20 & 2/22/22) and it seems timely to delve back in.
Who says our Congress can’t get anything done? Who says they complain, stonewall, won’t compromise, cause gridlock?
Last month, on April 6, 2022, President Biden signed the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, that was delivered to him earlier in the day. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D) from New York introduced the Bill on May 11, 2021. On February 8, 2022, the House of Representatives voted to pass, 342-19. One month later, March 8, 2022, after discussion, debate, and a timeout, the Senate voted 79-19 in favor.
Even though the Postal Service receives no taxpayer funds, it is not allowed to set its own prices. Only Congress can do that. Because of that and an unfair funding burden put into the USPS’s budget in 2006, the Postal Service has been operating in the red to the tune of almost $5,000,000,000.00 (five billion dollars) in 2020 alone.
The passage of this new law assures the viability of the USPS. It involves money, employee health insurance, and health benefit plans for retirees including enrolling in Medicare when they are eligible.
It repeals the unfair requirement that the USPS annually prepay future retirement health benefits. This line alone is responsible for saving the organization $72 billion. In 2006, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) required the USPS to create a fund to pay for the cost of its retiree’s health care benefits 75 years into the future. Seventy. Five. Years! No other federal agency or private corporation is burdened with this Congressionally-created liability.
Postmaster Louis DeJoy has been complaining about the un-sustainability of the Post Office since before he was appointed by former president Trump. Within his first month, DeJoy issued orders that slowed mail service. Bills were late. Packages were late. Voting by mail became unnecessarily complicated, controversial, and political.
The new legislation relieves a lot of the Postal Service’s debt giving it the financial flexibility to buy new trucks, make mail routes more efficient, and while it still cannot set its own prices, starting in January, 2022, scheduled increases will take place twice a year. The next increase, 2 cents, is scheduled for July, 2022. It will raise the rate to 60 cents for a first class letter. Other rates will also increase. Here's info from the USPS itself.
It’s time to stock up on Forever Stamps. They are worth the current postal rate no matter how much they cost when you bought them.
The Postal Service already cooperates with the US Passport office. Now, the USPS can contract with other more local government agencies to handle dog licenses, fishing licenses, and other non-postal products and services to bring in additional revenue.
And the new law mandates mail delivery six days per week, allowing for recognized Federal Holidays.
Oversight regulations are built in.
Simply stated, it takes seven steps for a Bill to become a Law.
1. Senators or Representatives write, sponsor, and introduce a bill for consideration
2. A committee is assigned to study the bill. They might request reports, hold hearings, decide on revisions. The committee might decide to recommend to pass the legislation.
3. The bill is sent back to the full House or Senate for more debate and approval. Amendments can be added.
4. House and Senate members vote on their respective versions of the bill.
5. A bill must be passed by the House and the Senate. The two chambers resolve legislative differences through a conference committee. The final compromise is agreed on by the House and the Senate.
6. When the bill is passed by both Chambers, it is sent to the President to sign into Public Law.
7. The Office of Federal Register assigns the Public Law a number so it can be codified by subject order. That way all laws on the same topic are together and easy to find.
Then why is it so hard for our Senators and Representatives to write, sponsor, and present for consideration sensible gun laws? Could it have to do with complaints, stonewalling, refusing to compromise? Gridlock?
Fifty-eight cents is a small price to pay to let your Senators and Representatives know how important it is to protect our children and other innocent victims of gun violence. If you wait till July, the cost goes up a couple of cents. Still *so* worth the effort, but lots can happen between now and July 1.
Find your Congressional Representatives here.
Find your US Senators here.
-—stay curious! (and write a letter)