Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A postal worker gives a thumbs-up to demonstrators protesting the Trump administration's sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service on August 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

A postal worker gives a thumbs-up to demonstrators protesting the Trump administration's sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service on August 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for MoveOn)

New Bill Aims to Scrap 'Ludicrous' Mandate Forcing Postal Service to Prefund Retiree Benefits Decades in Advance

"The unreasonable prefunding mandate has threatened the survival of the USPS and placed at risk vital services for the millions who rely on it."

Jake Johnson

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers introduced legislation this week that would scrap an onerous 2006 mandate requiring the U.S. Postal Service to prefund retiree benefits decades in advance, an obligation that's been blamed for the beloved mail agency's financial woes—which Republicans have readily used to justify recent attacks on the institution.

"It's an unnecessary burden that is jeopardizing its financial health. This is an easy fix that will dramatically improve USPS's finances and ensure mail delivery can continue uninterrupted."
—Sen. Brian Schatz

The USPS Fairness Act, an earlier version of which cleared the House last February, would "repeal the requirement that the United States Postal Service prepay future retirement benefits," a rollback supported by the 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and other organizations representing mail carriers.

"The bipartisan USPS Fairness Act is one of the first steps toward returning the Postal Service to solid financial footing, and I urge Congress to quickly pass this critical legislation," said APWU president Mark Dimondstein.

Approved by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2006, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act "required the Postal Service to create a $72 billion fund that would pay for its employees' retirement health benefits for more than 50 years into the future," NBC News explained Tuesday.

"This is not required [of] any other federal agency," NBC noted.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the lead House sponsor of the USPS Fairness Act, said in a statement Monday that "the unreasonable prefunding mandate has threatened the survival of the USPS and placed at risk vital services for the millions who rely on it."

"The prefunding mandate policy is based on the absurd notion of paying for the retirement funds of people who do not yet, and may not ever, work for the Postal Service," said DeFazio. "I'm hopeful that, under a Biden administration, we can finally repeal this ludicrous policy, provide the USPS with critical financial relief, and take the first step towards much-needed comprehensive reform."

The legislation's leading Democratic sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, echoed that message, declaring that "there is no reason we should be requiring the USPS to prefund its future health and retirement benefits."

"It's an unnecessary burden that is jeopardizing its financial health," said Schatz. "This is an easy fix that will dramatically improve USPS's finances and ensure mail delivery can continue uninterrupted."

The renewed push for repeal of the prefunding mandate comes as President Joe Biden is facing growing calls to act quickly to stop Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from inflicting any more damage on the USPS, whose services slowed dramatically after the Republican megadonor took over and began implementing sweeping changes last year.

Two Democratic members of Congress—Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)—are publicly urging Biden to terminate every member of the Postal Service Board of Governors and appoint replacements who are dedicated to preserving and strengthening the USPS as an essential public service.

"Through the devastating arson of the Trump regime, the USPS Board of Governors sat silent," Pascrell wrote in a letter to Biden last week. "Their dereliction cannot now be forgotten. Therefore, I urge you to fire the entire Board of Governors and nominate a new slate of leaders to begin the hard work of rebuilding our Postal Service for the next century."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Legal Campaign Aims to Protect People and Nature From Polluters' 'Irreparable Damage'

"States must listen to communities' demands to recognize the human right to a healthy environment and better regulate businesses with respect to the impacts of their operations."

Jessica Corbett ·


'You Tell Me What We Should Cut': Sanders Not Budging on $3.5 Trillion

"Poll after poll tells me, and tells you, that what we are trying to do is enormously popular."

Jake Johnson ·


Civil Rights Leaders Decry Senate's Failure to Pass Police Reform Bill

"We will continue to fight and advocate for legislation worthy of George Floyd's name," vowed the heads of seven advocacy groups.

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Set to Admit Even Fewer Refugees Than Trump's Record Low

The "paltry" number of those admitted so far would be well below the 62,500 ceiling President Joe Biden had set for the current fiscal year.

Andrea Germanos ·


In 'Landmark' Decision, EPA Finalizes Rule Cutting Use of Super-Pollutant HFCs

The regulation will drastically curb the use of "the most potent super-pollutants known to mankind at the moment," one climate campaigner said.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo