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Postal Reform Bills: A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 22 and S. 662

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The 109th Congress is considering two bipartisan bills that would reform the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) -- H.R. 22 and S. 662. H.R. 22 was introduced and referred to the House Government Reform Committee on the first day of the 109th Congress (January 4, 2005). On April 14, the Government Reform Committee marked up H.R. 22 and approved it by a vote of 39-0. Thereafter, H.R. 22 was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary on April 28, discharged therefrom May 27, and placed on Union Calendar No. 55 that same day. The House passed H.R. 22 on July 26, 2005, by a vote of 420 to 10 and it was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar (Calendar No. 176). S. 662 was introduced into the Senate on March 17, 2005, and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. On June 22, S. 662 was amended and reported by a vote of 15-1.

H.R. 22 and S. 662 are similar to two bills from the 108th Congress -- H.R. 4341 and S. 2468 -- which cleared committee by unanimous votes but were not brought to the floor. Like these previous bills, H.R. 22 and S. 662 would attempt to make the Postal Service focus on its core mission (universal delivery of the mail) by defining the term "postal services." The bills would define the categories of postal services and products as "competitive" or "market-dominant" and prohibit the Postal Service from subsidizing competitive products with revenues from market-dominant products.

H.R. 22 and S. 662 are more alike than H.R. 4341 and S. 2468. For example, previously the House and Senate differed over USPS's right to invest excess monies from the Competitive Products Fund in private sector securities and obligations. H.R. 22 and S. 662 both propose limiting USPS purchases to U.S. Treasury investments. The bills have also reconciled formerly divergent approaches to limits on "worksharing" discounts for barcoding and mail sorting. That said, H.R. 22 and S. 662 possess significant differences. These include:

-- the definition of "market-dominant" postal products and services;
-- the components and goals of the new ratemaking system for market-dominant products and services;
-- disability payments and retirement;
-- retiree health benefits funding;
-- the establishment of "modern service standards"; and
-- the governance of the Postal Service.

This report will be updated to reflect significant legislative developments.


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