Viewpoint: Postal Service steps up to the challenge, needs Congress to deliver reform

·3 min read
John McHugh, chairman of the Package Coalition; previously, he was secretary of the U.S. Army and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
John McHugh, chairman of the Package Coalition; previously, he was secretary of the U.S. Army and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Despite lingering logjams at U.S. ports, the persisting trucker shortage, and unrivaled demand for freight transportation in 2021, the delivery ecosystem had a bright spot — the U.S. Postal Service. Thanks to the USPS, consumers and small businesses across Oklahoma were able to order packages and ship letters on time for the holidays, notwithstanding the supply chain woes. This feat would not have been possible without the USPS’s relentless preparation and reliance on its integrated delivery network delivering letter mail and packages six days a week to every American household.

Now, it’s time for Congress to hit the ground running in 2022. The perfect place to start is the bipartisan and bicameral Postal Service Reform Act. Through its passage, Congress can ensure the USPS keeps its integrated delivery network intact and builds on its legacy of affordable and dependable nationwide service for the American people.

The Postal Service — like many businesses — faced no shortage of obstacles leading up to the holidays. Labor shortages, supply bottlenecks and enduring inflationary pressures, coupled with the ongoing pandemic, created a fragile economic environment for nearly all parties involved in the supply chain. To avoid the worst impacts of these unprecedented economic strains, the Postal Service management moved with speed and purpose to prepare for a successful peak season, and postal workers delivered for America.

USPS’s preparatory work certainly helped wrap up a high-volume season, but the foundation for success in 2021 was primarily built on its longstanding integrated delivery network. The USPS continues to maximize delivery efficiency and affordability for everything from holiday cards and gifts to mail order medicines and other essential correspondence and goods.

Thanks to the efficiencies of the integrated delivery network, USPS accepted more than 13.2 billion packages, letters and holiday cards between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. In short, the U.S. Postal Service stepped up to the challenge once again.

As an essential service and integral part of our economic infrastructure, the USPS has been unwavering in its commitment to accept packages since the onset of COVID-19. Not only that, but the U.S. Postal Service is the only carrier that continues to deliver to store fronts and home addresses in every U.S. ZIP code. While this is a massive undertaking in ordinary times, over the last two years, the USPS has proven it can handle these wide-ranging duties — even in extraordinary times.

Unlike the U.S. Postal Service, private carriers like UPS doubled down on its strategy of limiting capacity and service to only its most profitable customers, while imposing steep surcharges on many rural and residential addresses across the country.

Private carriers, like UPS, also spent the run up to the holidays lobbying against the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act, which would ensure the Postal Service can continue to provide affordable mail and package delivery services to all American businesses and consumers.

Derailing this important legislation may be good for private carriers, but it will harm the Postal Service, businesses and consumers, especially those in rural areas, who will face higher prices, fewer choices and less reliable delivery options.

As policymakers return to D.C., it’s imperative to acknowledge the integral role the Postal Service plays in fortifying our nation’s economy and connecting loved ones over the holidays and throughout the year. The Postal Service Reform Act offers Sen. James Lankford and Sen. Jim Inhofe the perfect opportunity to help reform the Postal Service and further strengthen the resilience of our delivery ecosystem for years to come.

John McHugh is chairman of the Package Coalition; previously, he was secretary of the U.S. Army and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: U.S. Postal Service legislation can reform, strengthen delivery system