Suddenly Congress, with an assist from the Biden administration, seems interested in saving the U.S. Postal Service rather than eviscerating it.

The broadly bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, has 10 Republican cosponsors and is likely to pass.

It would address some of the fundamental financial problems that have plagued the post office for years. The most significant provision would eliminate a unique, unrealistic and unsustainable requirement that the post office pre-fund health care for retirees 75 years in advance.

That alone would save $46 billion over the next decade. The service’s 500,000 employees instead would enroll in Medicare when they turn 65.

Recognizing that first-class mail is in steep decline due to online competition, the bill also would bolster the USPS’ competitiveness for lucrative parcel-delivery services — on its own and as the “last-mile” provider for the big private services such as USPS and FedEx, which long ago recognized that the USPS already delivers to every address in America six days a week.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has nominated candidates to fill three vacancies on the USPS Board of Governors. Even if the board does not vote Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who has proposed sweeping service cuts, the board is likely to mitigate that plan, especially if Congress passes the Senate reform bill.

The USPS still has myriad problems because of the vast scope of its required services and the decline of its first-class mail monopoly.

But it remains crucial to commerce and many other aspects of national and community life. Congress should ensure its survival and a better future for it.

— Tribune News Service

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