NRECA and other nonprofits are asking the U.S. Postal Service to abandon an unprecedented postage rate hike now that Congress has passed legislation to bolster the agency’s operations and provide financial relief.
The Postal Reform Act of 2022, which the Senate approved last week and President Joe Biden is expected to sign into law soon, was drafted to strengthen how the beleaguered service does business and ultimately save it money.
But the measure will not ease the record-high rates authorized last year or deter additional biannual postage increases.
“While this legislation will help shore up some of the Postal Service’s financial challenges, it does not provide immediate relief for electric co-ops and other postal users that face record rate increases in the coming years,” said Bobby Hamill, NRECA’s government relations director on this issue.
“NRECA continues to work with our Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers coalition in urging the Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission to moderate the planned rate increases, particularly in light of the recent financial support provided by Congress.”
The Postal Regulatory Commission last August authorized nonprofit marketing mail rates to increase by an average of 7.8%. This included 5.7% for first-class letters, 10.4% for large envelopes, newsletters and magazines and 8.6% for parcels.
NRECA joined with the ANM to fight the new rates, and ANM joined a lawsuit against the commission for allowing the nonprofits’ postage rates to jump higher than current inflation.
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last November that the rate hike was within the commission’s authority under the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and that it satisfied the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement of “reasoned decision-making.”
ANM Executive Director Stephen Kearney said that with a record $24 billion in cash and $107 billion in relief from Congress, the Postal Service does not require 6.8% to 8.8% rate hikes as authorized. USPS will file the level of its next rate increase with the commission in April.
“We and other mailer groups are now trying to convince the USPS to not use its full rate authority,” Kearney said. “Mailers are also being hit by other cost increases for paper, fuel and trucking that are driven by supply and demand.
“If USPS uses all the authority, it will lead to a second record set of increases in less than a year. USPS could and should defer its use of the full authority.”
Cathy Cash is a staff writer for NRECA.