19 Senate Republicans vote against bipartisan plan to fix the US Postal Service

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The bill passed in both houses of Congress and now goes to President Joe Biden for signature.

The Senate passed a bipartisan plan aimed at fixing the ailing U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday, with all 50 Democrats and 29 Republicans voting in favor. But 19 senators — all Republicans, led by National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott — opposed it.

The 79-19 vote for the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 came one month after the House passed it 342-120. The no votes came from Scott (FL), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Mike Braun (IN), John Cornyn (TX), Mike Crapo (ID), Ted Cruz (TX), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), Ron Johnson (WI), James Lankford (OK), Mike Lee (UT), Rand Paul (KY), Jim Risch (ID), Mitt Romney (UT), Marco Rubio (FL), Ben Sasse (NE), Tim Scott (SC), Richard Shelby (AL), Pat Toomey (PA), and Tommy Tuberville (AL).

The bill contains several provisions to help the cash-strapped agency become more financially stable, while requiring it to maintain its six-day-a-week delivery service and be more transparent about its service delays. It ends an expensive rule forcing the Postal Service to pay for its retirees' health insurance years in advance and will transition future employees to the Medicare system when they retire rather than a separate insurance program. These moves are projected to reduce the agency's costs by tens of billions of dollars over 10 years.

Rick Scott strongly opposed the legislation, objecting especially to the Medicare provisions.

As of now, when postal workers retire, they have the option to enroll in Medicare parts B and D — which about 80% of them do — and have their health insurance provided primarily from the system that they and other American workers pay into through payroll taxes. But some opt to continue to rely on separate federal employees' coverage that costs the Postal Service more.

American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein told the Federal News Network on Tuesday that the move was a win for everyone: "It should save money over the long run for the individual worker, because our premiums will be somewhat less. It'll save money for the Postal Service, because their part of the premiums will be a little less, because Medicare will become the primary health care provider and [Federal Employees Health Benefits program] will become the secondary.,"

Rick Scott complained that he was unable to gut those provisions via an amendment. In a floor speech Tuesday, he complained that he, Braun, Grassley, Johnson, and Lankford wanted to add in a requirement that the Postal Service pay $6 billion to cover the additional costs to Medicare of providing postal retirees with the coverage they are already entitled to receive.

"It doesn't look like I'm gonna have an opportunity to have my colleagues vote on an amendment and I don't think that's right," he said. "The Postal Service should pay their fair share."

Scott's concern about Medicare is notable given that, according to PolitiFact, he "oversaw the largest Medicare fraud at the time" in American history during his time running a hospital company called Columbia/HCA.

In late February, Scott and Risch authored a letter opposing even considering the legislation on the floor because Russia had invaded Ukraine. "Placing any other legislation, especially a bill which has not been considered by a single Senate committee and does not address any urgent issues, ahead of addressing the invasion of Ukraine would be a dereliction of our duty to the American people and a betrayal of our responsibility to promote and protect democracy and freedom across the world," they claimed.

Biden has endorsed the legislation and is expected to sign it.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) praised passage of the bill and noted that it may help begin to undo the damage done by changes instituted since GOP-megadonor Louis DeJoy took up the position of postmaster general in June 2020.

The Postal Service Reform Act is a significant step toward modernizing one of the federal government's most important functions. As I voted in favor of this bill, I thought about the Pennsylvanians I continue to hear from who are not receiving bills, prescriptions and other essential mail on time or at all. This bipartisan bill will help begin to solve this problem.

 

While we work to implement these much-needed reforms, I will continue to press Postmaster General DeJoy to answer for the harm the changes he put in place over the past two years have caused. As long as mail is delayed in Pennsylvania, we've got more work to do.

Cuts to service and delivery delays under DeJoy have been especially difficult for older Americans and people with disabilities who rely on the Postal Service to get their medications.

As a candidate, Biden vowed in 2020 to fix the Postal Service. Earlier in the campaign, Donald Trump had admitted to trying to sabotage the agency to prevent mail-in ballots from being delivered on time.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.