Collins, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, would require the Postal Service to operate under a cap linked to the consumer price index, providing flexibility in setting mail rates as long as the average came out to equal inflation. Her plan would provide a fresh start to rate setting and wipe out terms used in case law for the last 30 years.
That has brought a protest from Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), who has put a hold on the Collins bill. He has called for retaining use of a "fair and equitable" standard to ensure that the post office cannot play favorites when setting rates. The House has approved a postal overhaul bill with the fairness standard.
But Collins believes a price cap will ensure fairness, a point endorsed by Thomas G. Day , a postal executive, in a letter to Collins this week. The Senate bill, Day wrote, "ensures the Postal Service cannot unreasonably discriminate between mailers."
The Postal Service, he said, is "strongly opposed" to Bond's effort to modify the bill with a "fair and equitable" amendment.
The Collins-Bond impasse has gone on for three months. During this period, the postal board of governors went public with a list of concerns and said it did not want legislation that would give postal regulators greater sway over internal operations of the post office.
The White House also has problems with the legislation, opposing provisions in the House and Senate bills that would provide some financial relief to the Postal Service.
One dispute concerns whether the Postal Service or the Treasury Department should pay $27 billion in retirement benefits to postal workers for their military service. That obligation was placed on the Postal Service in 2003, even though historically the Treasury has covered such costs.