On Monday, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan and Government Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Jody Hice, joined Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) in requesting necessary revisions to the United States Postal Services’ (USPS) fiscal impact projections for the COVID-19 crisis.
According to recent numbers from USPS, the agency’s revenues were higher during the first three months of the coronavirus crisis and were even higher than their revenues from the same period last year. This conflicts starkly with the picture the agency painted at the beginning of the U.S. outbreak, which it has used to justify its requests for a multibillion-dollar taxpayer bailout.
“On April 10, 2020, USPS told congressional staff that the Board of Governors approved a proposal to request that Congress provide USPS with $25 billion to cover losses attributable to COVID-19, $25 billion for modernization, and $14 billion in debt relief,” a letter from the three lawmakers to Postmaster General Margaret Brennan explains. “This plan relied on USPS’s projection that it would lose an additional $13 billion, directly attributable to COVID-19, from April through the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, resulting in illiquidity at that time. USPS also projected a loss of $10 billion due to COVID-19 over FY 2021,” the lawmakers add.
However, “USPS revenues were down initially, but they have since recovered dramatically due to an increase in package volume that is apparently rivaling volumes leading up to Christmas.”
The letter goes on to explain that the “simplest metric to determine the impact of unexpected revenues and costs is USPS’s cash position,” which has improved significantly since the start of the pandemic: “USPS started the crisis with $9.2 billion in cash, and as of June 4th, had $13.2 billion.”
- Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats have repeatedly pushed to bail out the postal service without implementing long-needed reforms.
- In January 2019, the committee asked the USPS for a business plan to put them on a financial stable path. USPS promised a plan by that summer, but never produced it.
- In April, Committee member Fred Keller (R-PA) again inquired about a financial stability plan during a briefing with Postmaster General Megan Brennan, but one has still yet to be produced.
- The GAO has found that in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the Postal Service’s net losses totaled approximately $78 billion from FY 2007-2019 and its productivity has plummeted in recent years.
- At the end of FY 2019, USPS’s unfunded liabilities and debt totaled $161 billion—an amount more than double its annual revenues.