Fighting to Include Postal Workers in Stimulus Package

Judy Beard

March 1, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Since the beginning of the 117th Congress, we have focused a lot of attention on making sure the White House and Congress include USPS in the upcoming stimulus package, titled the American Rescue Plan. We were able to build support on two issues: emergency paid leave and the workers compensation claims process. The package from the House of Representatives included language for postal workers that need leave should they fall ill from COVID-19 or need to care for a loved one as a result of the virus. We also secured language in the House package which would streamline the Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP), to ensure that workers who contract the virus are assumed to have contracted it through work, allowing them to qualify for the compensation they deserve. Once the House passes the stimulus package, it will move to the Senate.

In the Senate, this stimulus bill will only require 51 votes to pass. Each fiscal year, Congress has the opportunity to pass a “budget reconciliation” bill that requires only a simple majority in the Senate to pass. However, while these bills can provide the Postal Service with emergency leave funding and infrastructure funding, there is a litany of rules that narrow the scope of legislation that can be included in these packages. The primary constraint to this style of legislation is that the proposed bill must have a significant impact on the budget, and that impact must not last longer than 10 years.

When this article went to press, the Senate had not yet released its version of the American Rescue Plan. In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue pressing the Senate to keep the House language. Before this legislation can become law, it must be passed in identical versions by both the House and Senate and signed by President Biden. Please visit for any updates on this legislation.

Both Sides Must Work Together to Save the Postal Service

In the 117th Congress, one of our primary goals will be to grow bipartisan support of the Postal Service. While Democrats currently control the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives, it is still important for members of both parties to understand the vital role the Postal Service plays in every community in the nation. In addition, the vast majority of legislation, including postal reform and the USPS Fairness Act, will require 60 votes out of the Senate’s 100 members to proceed to the floor for a final vote. As the Democratic party only has 50 votes in the Senate (plus the Vice President’s vote to break any ties), in most cases we will need to persuade 10 Republican Senators to support our legislative reforms.

USPS Fairness Act Reintroduced in the House and Senate

"In early February, both the House of Representatives and the Senate re-introduced the bipartisan USPS Fairness Act (S. 145 and H.R. 695). This legislation would fully repeal the onerous prefunding of retiree health care benefits required by the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). The PAEA forced the Postal Service to prefund its retiree health care benefits 75 years in advance, paying for retirement health care for individuals who had not been born yet. The pre-funding mandate is accountable for 92 percent of the Postal Service’s net losses since 2007 and is a constant threat to the financial sustainability of the Postal Service.

The USPS Fairness Act would return the Postal Service to procedures in place prior to the PAEA, utilizing a pay-as-yougo method for retiree benefits, the standard practice across federal agencies and private businesses. Ending the prefunding mandate gained immense support from both sides of the aisle in the last Congress. Now is the time to right the errors of the failed pre-funding policy, and allow the USPS to remove this manufactured debt from its books. Please contact your representative and Senators and ask that they cosponsor this critical legislation, 844-402-1001.

UPDATE: President Biden signed the final version of the American Rescue Plan stimulus package on March 11. Additional funding for the Postal Service was not included in the final legislation.

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