Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Incentivize Reliable Postal Service, Limit Excessive Rates for Local News Outlets

WASHINGTON – 5/21/24 – News outlets across North Dakota have been negatively impacted by surging postal rates and deteriorating service by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). This has resulted in financial hardships for newspapers and other media outlets, as well as loss of timely access to local news and information for citizens, especially in rural areas. USPS recently announced another round of rate increases for news outlets, which will take effect in July, while failing to meet on-time delivery standards for periodicals.

In response, U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) joined U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-VT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) in introducing the bipartisan Deliver for Democracy Act, legislation to block rate increases unless performance is improved.

“In North Dakota, a dependable postal service isn’t a luxury — it’s a lifeline for our rural communities, and that’s exactly why I support the Deliver for Democracy Act. Publications around North Dakota rely on the USPS for delivery, and a troubling pattern has emerged where rates have increased, coupled with a noticeable decrease in reliability,” said Senator Cramer. “If the Postal Service wants to increases rates, it should be held responsible and actually deliver periodicals within a reasonable timeline. By tying rate increases to their ability to deliver on time, we safeguard our local news — the heartbeat of our rural communities. Efficiency and reliability must be the cornerstones of USPS delivery.”

“A vibrant and healthy local press has always been a defining feature of American democracy. Today, local news offers a crucial alternative to online information ecosystems, which are too often distorted by algorithms that amplify disinformation and confine readers to inescapable echo chambers. But surging rate increases and poor service jeopardize local news outlets’ ability to reach readers and supply the information so essential to an engaged citizenry and a vibrant democracy. It’s time for USPS to remember its mission and meet the media’s basic needs,” said Senator Welch. “The Deliver for Democracy Act would help local news stave off extinction by requiring USPS to meet reasonable on-time delivery standards before raising rates.”

Specifically, the legislation would require the USPS to either achieve at least a 95% on-time delivery rate for periodicals or an improvement of at least two percentage points to unlock its 2% surcharge authority for that class of mail; direct the USPS to annually report to the Postal Regulatory Commission on its progress in including on-time delivery data for newspapers in its periodical service performance measurement; and Instruct the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study and submit a report to Congress on options for alternate USPS pricing schemes to improve the financial position of periodicals.

Additional cosigners include U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The legislation is also endorsed by the North Dakota Newspaper Association, the National Newspaper Association, and the News/Media Alliance.

“Our members are being forced to cope with unsustainable rates from the monopoly postal system. If something doesn’t change soon, they will be put out of business and residents will see more news deserts and an even greater loss of quality news and information. We thank Senator Welch for his leadership and support the Deliver for Democracy Act,” said News/Media Alliance President & CEO Danielle Coffey.

“NNA applauds the introduction of the ‘Deliver for Democracy Act.’ This bill highlights the responsibility of the USPS to accurately measure the service newspapers receive and will hold it accountable for failing to meet its service standards. For publishers who are struggling to keep their papers in circulation due to excessive rate increases, this bill is an important first step towards making the USPS a viable distribution partner again,” said John Galer, Chairman, National Newspaper Association.

Click here for bill text.

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