Fair/Equitable Issue Stalls Postal Reform

WASHINGTON, DC–Congress left town for the Thanksgiving break without passing postal reform. At the center of the debate is an amendment being offered by Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) to add language similar to a provision in the House-passed bill to require that postage rates be “fair and equitable.” The U.S. Postal Service, as well as Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the chief sponsor of the bill, is adamantly opposed to the amendment. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) offered to allow a vote on the Senate floor to include debate and a vote on the amendment. While Senator Collins agreed to that strategy, Senator Bond did not. Bond concluded it would be difficult to convince the Senate to vote against the bill’s chief sponsor on the amendment.

Since the bill will not move until there is consideration of his amendment, Bond does not have to risk a floor vote. The issue has divided the mailing community along rate case lines. Companies that tend to be in the large-volume mail category see the “fair and equitable” language as favoring smaller mailers at their expense, while small-volume mailers tend to see it as their way to prevent having to bear the brunt of rate increases. The issue is likely to hold up postal reform for some time to come.

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