REGULATION/LEGISLATION

U.S. Postal Service buyout plans clears Senate committee

A proposal to use the United States Postal Service's pension overpayments to fund an early retirement buyout program was approved late Wednesday by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The plan was part of a wider package of postal service reforms approved 9-1 by the committee.

The postal service would be able to tap into $6.9 billion in overpayments made to the $377 billion Federal Employees Retirement System, Washington, to induce as many as 100,000 employees to retire over the next three years. The estimated $8 billion in annual savings from the buyouts would help address the postal service's pressing operational and liquidity problems, the bill's sponsors — Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Tom Carper, D-Del., and Scott Brown, R-Mass. — said when introducing the measure Nov. 2.

Mr. Lieberman, the committee chairman, said in a statement after the vote, “I am pleased the committee came together in a bipartisan way to offer a reasonable solution to a very grave problem.”

A full Senate vote has not been scheduled yet, said a committee spokeswoman who did not want to be identified.

Postal reform legislation approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Oct. 13 does not address the pension surplus issue, but aides on both committees say they hope to resolve the buyout issue before the House and Senate vote.