Alaska Delegation Fights House Attempt to Meddle with Bypass Mail
Begich and Young: It Ain’t Broke, So Don’t Fix It
WASHINGTON, DC – The Alaska Delegation today vigorously defended Alaska’s bypass mail system against proposed changes that would leave Alaskans with higher costs and less reliable delivery during a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. U.S. Senator Mark Begich and Representative Don Young testified before the committee and Senator Lisa Murkowski submitted testimony as part of the delegation’s joint efforts to protect bypass mail. During the provocatively titled hearing, “Alaska Bypass Mail Delivery: A Broken System” the Alaska Delegation sent a strong message to the committee: It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.
“Chairman Issa’s proposed changes would infringe on Alaska’s right to universal mail service and would make the system more expensive and less effective for the Postal Service and Alaskans,” said Begich. “As a member of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, I have already fought hard to convince the Postmaster General to roll back rate increases for Alaskans and protect bypass mail. I am not going to allow some misguided efforts to undo the bypass system. The changes Rep. Issa proposed are unacceptable. Alaskans are open to discussing ways to make the system more efficient, but we will oppose any changes that violate universal service or make the Postal Service worse off. Alaskans should not have to pay more to receive the same service as other Americans.”
“The Committee is dead wrong to pursue changes to bypass mail that will create no new efficiencies, be detrimental to the economy and air carrier market in Alaska, and potentially damage the quality of life to rural residents,” said Congressman Don Young. “This pursuit is assuredly counterproductive to the committee’s goals. I don’t know where this idea that Alaska’s bypass mail system is broken came from. It is certainly not broken; in fact, it’s working well. We need this for the people in the rural areas of Alaska. We don’t need to fix something that’s not broken, it does work!”
“[Alaska’s] bypass mail system saves the Postal Service an estimated $13.4 million per year in operating costs alone by allowing a huge volume of qualifying Parcel Post mail to literally bypass postal facilities,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski in the statement she provided the committee. “In Alaska, we routinely figure out ways to overcome our challenges. The bypass mail process is one such example. In fact, the Postmaster General has said, ‘The current bypass mail process is the most cost-effective and efficient way for the Postal Service to handle the large Parcel Post volume for Alaska.’ … The bypass mail process costs the United States Treasury absolutely nothing, and saves the Postal Service money. The bypass mail process—as it is currently constructed—is the most cost-efficient method for delivering mail to rural Alaska.”
At the hearing, Senator Begich and Congressman Young disputed committee chairman Representative Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) suggestions that the current system does not benefit rural residents and noted that if rates increase they will simply be handed down to communities in the form of higher grocery prices.
Proposed changes to bypass mail, if implemented, would lead to higher costs for rural Alaskans and fail to comply with the Postal Service’s universal service obligation. Though bypass mail is a unique system, it gives the Postal Service the tools it needs to provide universal service and handle the challenges of Alaska’s geography.
Both Senator Begich and Congressman Young took issue with the title of the hearing, noting that bypass mail is not a broken system, far from it. They urged the committee to reject any changes that would violate universal service for Alaska or make the bypass mail system more expensive for the Postal Service or for Alaskans. Senator Begich and Congressman Young pressed the committee to consult both the Alaska Delegation and the Postal Service to get a full and accurate perspective before proceeding with any proposed changes.
Copies of Murkowski, Begich, and Young’s written testimonies are attached.