Legislation has been introduced in the Senate which would provide a $25 billion bailout for the Postal Service, albeit with some strings.
The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act (S. 4174) would provide USPS with up to $25 billion to cover revenue losses or operational expenses resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus. The bill was introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and has 4 co-sponsors as of the time of this writing.
The Postal Service has been struggling financially for years, reporting quarterly and annual net losses for over a decade. Its losses have reached a new level during the coronavirus pandemic with the agency warning that it may not be able to remain in business past the rest of the year without a bailout from Congress. The agency formally requested $75 billion from Congress to get it through its latest financial shortfall.
As a result, some lawmakers in Congress have proposed legislation to give the Postal Service some of the money it is asking for. Lawmakers in the House are calling for financial relief in addition to this latest bill introduced in the Senate.
While the bill would offer $25 billion in emergency relief to the Postal Service, the money comes with strings.
Under the terms of the legislation, the emergency funding would be provided by appropriating the money to a newly created “Postal Service COVID-19 Emergency Fund” and would be available until September 30, 2022. The legislation would clarify the borrowing authority provided in the CARES Act to indicate that the Treasury Secretary shall lend the funds at the request of USPS and set the terms and conditions of the loan as those in place on September 29, 2018.
Prior to using the funds, USPS would be required to certify in its quarterly and audited annual reports to the Postal Regulatory Commission that the funds are needed to cover revenue losses or operational expenses resulting from COVID-19. Congress would also be sent a copy of these reports.
The bill stipulates that the Postal Service would have to prioritize the purchase of personal protective equipment and conduct additional cleaning and sanitizing of its facilities and vehicles.
The legislation also states that the new Postmaster General and the Board of Governors would have to transmit to Congress a plan to ensure the long-term solvency of USPS that would be due to Congress no later than nine months after the bill’s enactment.
Collins said in a statement about the bill:
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our daily lives in fundamental ways, and the Postal Service is needed now more than ever. The agency’s dedicated employees go to work each day, facing increased risk as they continue to ensure reliable delivery of needed prescriptions, safety-net benefits, and other critical services that might otherwise be unavailable. The Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act would ensure the Postal Service is able to continue fulfilling its essential mission, while also providing for responsible stewardship of taxpayer funds and laying the groundwork to put the Postal Service on a path to long-term viability.