Welch: Bill will ease budget strain on postal service, deliver for customers
WINOOSKI, Vt. (WCAX) - A bill to get the U.S. Postal Service back on track is making its way through Congress. It’s aimed at alleviating staffing and debt problems the postal service faces, while getting people their mail delivery on time.
Vermont Congressman Peter Welch spoke in Winooski Friday about the Postal Service Reform Act, which passed the House on Tuesday.
“That’s what is so important here-- we’re making a commitment to them,” said Welch, D-Vermont.
Post offices in Vermont and around the country are still dealing with challenges brought on by the pandemic: staffing shortages, slow delivery times, and, in some cases, no delivery at all for days.
To try to combat the issues, the U.S. House passed the Postal Service Reform Act.
“Finally after many years of work, the House of Representatives, on a bipartisan basis, has passed this postal reform act,” Welch said.
The bill requires future postal service retirees who have been paying into Medicare to enroll in the program.
Welch says oftentimes, employees were paying into Medicare but not using it, costing the postal service more money.
The bill also eliminates a current requirement forcing the postal service to pre-pay employees’ health care costs for 75 years.
These changes are expected to save the post office nearly $50 billion over the next decade.
“The postal service is going to have the additional capacity to pay wages. But this will alleviate some of the financial pressure, so there will be additional incentives for them to be able to hire,” Welch said.
The bill also requires the postal service to deliver both mail and packages six days a week. And it creates a new online dashboard for customers to track service and monitor for delays.
Throughout the pandemic, Vermonters say they’ve experienced many mailing challenges first-hand.
“Mailing across the country being a little bit slower, a couple days longer, a day longer to get from here to Boston instead of overnight, it’s two days kind of thing,” said Madison Kincaid of Winooski.
“The pandemic has shown us that whether it’s in a grocery store or a post office or in our day-to-day life that things aren’t on-demand like we expected them to be,” said Matthew Farkas of Winooski.
Congressman Welch says complaints have escalated over the last year. He says in January, his office received 69 complaints compared to eight in January 2021.
“What we’re hearing from people is they’re not getting their prescription drugs provided on time. They’re not getting their checks, which they absolutely need to pay their bills,” Welch said.
The bill now awaits approval from the Senate. Welch says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said it’s a priority.
I reached out to the postal service for comment. They say they’re thankful to congressional leadership for moving this bill forward.
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