By Jessica Mathews /

Congress passed what was described as historic bi-partisan legislation this week to shore up and reform the United States Postal Service and ensure six-day-a-week mail delivery.

The long-fought postal overhaul has been years in the making and comes amid widespread complaints about mail service slowdowns. Many Americans became dependent on the Postal Service during the COVID-19 crisis, but officials repeatedly warned that without congressional action it would run out of cash by 2024. Congress mustered what was said to be rare bi-partisan support for the Postal Service package, dropping some of the more controversial proposals to settle on core ways to save the service and ensure its future operations.

Last month, the House approved the bill, 342-92, with all Democrats and most Republicans voting for it. On Tuesday, the Senate gave approval on a 79-19 vote.

The measure was spearheaded by Democratic U.S. Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that oversees the Postal Service. He said the bill has been 15 years in the making and will help the Postal Service overcome burdensome requirements that threaten its ability to provide reliable service and set a path for long-term financial stability.

The Postal Service Reform Act would provide key financial and operational reforms to the United States Postal Service. The bill would eliminate a pre-funding requirement that has hurt the Postal Service financially and integrate postal worker retirees’ health care with Medicare. In addition, the bill would require the Postal Service to maintain its standard of delivering at least six days a week.

The legislation would further improve transparency of Postal Service operations to both customers and Congress by requiring the publication of easily accessible local weekly service data on the Postal Service website, as well as regular and detailed reporting to Congress on Postal Service finances and operations. The bill also includes additional provisions for Postal Service effectiveness, accountability and growth.

The legislation now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Photo: USPS Facebook.