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Bill that would give the U.S. Postal Service a major overhaul moves to the Senate

A worker carries a large parcel at the United States Postal Service sorting and processing facility in Boston on Nov. 18, 2021.
Charles Krupa
A worker carries a large parcel at the United States Postal Service sorting and processing facility in Boston on Nov. 18, 2021.

Bipartisan legislation that boosts the U.S. Postal Service and saves nearly $50 billion in the next decade is potentially set for a Senate vote by the end of next week.

The bill, called the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, passed in the House on Tuesday night with overwhelming support of 342-92.

"Americans rely on the Postal Service for medicines, essential goods, voting, correspondence, and their livelihoods," tweeted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "With the overwhelming House vote for postal reform—I intend for the Senate to quickly take up and pass the bill!"

Key parts of the bill include requiring Postal Service employees to enroll in Medicare, which would cut down on premiums, according to the House Oversight Committee. Currently, about a quarter of retired postal workers do not enroll in Medicare, even when they are eligible. The committee estimates this would save approximately $22.6 billion over 10 years.

Additionally, USPS would no longer be required to pre-fund health benefits for its current and retiring employees, which saves about $27 billion over 10 years. This is where the greatest cost savings for the Postal Service would come.

The bill also implements a service-performance transparency tool, which would require USPS to create an online dashboard with data on national- and local-level service to track delivery times. It also mandates at least six days of service per week.

Of note, the bill is also attempting to promote local news by expanding special rates for local newspaper distribution.

For decades, USPS, which does not receive taxpayer money, has been politicized and toggled between serving as a business or a public service. It has been losing billions of dollars annually in recent years.

During the 2020 election, the Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy came under intense scrutiny as millions of Americans voted by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. DeJoy is a longtime Republican donor and was appointed to his role during the Trump administration.

On the new legislation, DeJoy says he's "hopeful" the bill passes through the Senate in a timely manner.

This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: February 10, 2022 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous version of this story incorrectly said President Donald Trump appointed Louis DeJoy as postmaster general. He was appointed by the USPS Board of Governors.
Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.