WINOOSKI, Vermont (WCAX) — A bill to get the U.S. Postal Service back on track is making its way through Congress. It aims to alleviate the staffing and debt problems facing the Postal Service, while allowing people to receive their mail on time.
Vermont Congressman Peter Welch spoke to Winooski on Friday about the Postal Service Reform Act, which passed the House on Tuesday.
“That’s what’s so important here – we’re committed to them,” said Welch, D-Vermont.
Post offices in Vermont and across the country are still facing the challenges posed by the pandemic: staff shortages, slow delivery times and, in some cases, no delivery at all for days.
In an attempt to combat the problems, the United States House of Representatives passed the Postal Service Reform Act.
“Finally, after many years of work, the House of Representatives, on a bipartisan basis, has passed this Postal Reform Act,” Welch said.
The bill requires future Postal Service retirees who have paid into Medicare to enroll in the program.
Welch says employees often paid into Medicare but didn’t use it, costing the Postal Service more money.
The bill also eliminates a current requirement for the Postal Service to prepay employee health care costs for 75 years.
These changes are expected to save the Post Office nearly $50 billion over the next decade.
“The Postal Service will have the additional capacity to pay salaries. But it will take some of the financial pressure off, so there will be additional incentives for them to hire,” Welch said.
The bill also requires the Postal Service to deliver mail and packages six days a week. And it’s creating a new online dashboard for customers to track service and monitor delays.
Throughout the pandemic, Vermont residents say they have encountered many mail issues.
“Mailing across the country being a little slower, a few more days, one more day to get from here to Boston instead of staying overnight, it’s kind of two days,” said said Madison Kincaid of Winooski.
“The pandemic has shown us that whether it’s in a grocery store or a post office or in our day-to-day lives, things aren’t on demand the way we expected,” said Matthew Farkas of Winooski.
Congressman Welch says complaints have escalated over the past year. He says that in January his office received 69 complaints compared to eight in January 2021.
“What we hear from people is that they don’t get their prescription drugs on time. They’re not getting their checks, which they absolutely need to pay their bills,” Welch said.
The bill now awaits Senate approval. Welch says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has said it’s a priority.
I contacted the postal service for a comment. They say they are grateful to congressional leaders for pushing this bill forward.
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