On Monday, March 23, 2020, House Democrats unveiled a coronavirus stimulus spending package that would give the USPS® $25 billion over the next two years.
The $2.5 trillion Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act is the third and largest emergency funding bill lawmakers have introduced to mitigate the global pandemic’s strain on the economy.
“The Postal Service™ is in need of urgent help as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis. Based on a number of briefings and warnings this week about a critical fall-off in mail across the country, it has become clear that the Postal Service will not survive the summer without immediate help from Congress and the White House,” House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Government Operations Subcommittee Chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a statement.
The bill would forgive the current USPS debt of $11 billion to the U.S. Treasury Department. Additionally, it would eliminate the $3 billion annual borrowing limit from the Treasury and would allow the USPS to borrow another $15 billion.
“It would authorize the Postal Service to establish temporary delivery points during the crisis and allow it to institute flexible delivery in the event its operations or employees are impacted by the coronavirus outbreak,” House Appropriations Committee staffers wrote in a summary of the spending bill.
The USPS is working closely with postal unions to reach agreements that will help protect workers, who are deemed as essential personnel. Most notably is the liberal usage of sick leave for employees who are ill and leave without pay (LWOP) usage. During the next 60 days, postal workers will also be able to use their sick leave for unexpected childcare needs.
Unfortunately, last night, March 24, 2020, the Senate, in negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, removed any previous relief proposals and replaced it with an additional $10 billion borrowing authority above what they have today. This will allow the USPS to borrow money to maintain liquidity, but it will eventually have to pay it back. Negotiations are ongoing and it could change again. There is also the possibility that the USPS will get relief in a future stimulus package.
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