“Today we enshrine in law our recognition that the Postal Service is critical,” Biden said.
But what exactly does the law say, and how will it affect most Americans? This is what you need to know:
The Postal Service Reform Act will require retired postal employees to enroll in Medicare when eligible, while eliminating a previous mandate that required the agency to cover their health care costs years in advance.
Those two measures would save the USPS nearly $50 billion over the next decade, according to the House Oversight Committee.
The legislation will also require the USPS to create an online dashboard with local and national delivery time data.
Why are USPS finances so dire?
Unlike other government agencies, the USPS does not generally receive taxpayer funding and instead must rely on revenue from stamps and package deliveries to support itself.
And unlike private couriers like UPS and FedEx, the USPS can’t eliminate unprofitable routes because Congress mandates that the Postal Service deliver to every home in America, including a remote community in the Grand Canyon, where the mail is delivered on mules. And Postal Service prices must be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent government agency.
How has low funding affected the USPS?
Does the law go far enough to address USPS challenges?
While lawmakers from both parties have praised the legislation as an important step for the USPS, Paul Steidler, a postal services expert at the Lexington Institute, told CNN that it doesn’t go far enough.
“The bill is woefully insufficient because it does nothing to improve mail service. It takes pressure off the Postal Service to better understand and reduce its costs. And it doesn’t give enough power to the Postal Regulatory Commission, which right now is very small and has very little resources compared to the Postal Service.
What does this law mean for mail-in ballots in future elections?
“This legislation will not affect that in any way, positively or negatively,” Steidler told CNN.
“They did a great job in the 2020 election in terms of delivering things on time. So there’s every reason to expect that to continue this year in 2022,” Steidler said, noting that election mail “is a fraction very small”. of the total amount of mail handled by the postal service.
Why do we need an efficient USPS?
“Because almost all Americans still rely on it at different times for important business correspondence, legal correspondence, government notices, including the IRS, the Department of Motor Vehicles,” Steidler said. “The United States Postal Service is the only organization that can deliver the mail.”
“Post is still very important. It’s especially important for those who live in rural communities, for the poor, for the disabled, and the numbers speak for themselves.”
CORRECTION: The story has been corrected to specify that US Postal Service prices are approved and monitored by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
This story has been updated with additional details.