Murkowski: Review Questions Constitutionality of Bypass Mail Challenge

Congressional Research Service Tells Senator House Bill May Be “Commandeering”

Senator Lisa Murkowski today welcomed a Congressional Research Service (CRS) analysis she requested on the Constitutionality of a provision to require the State of Alaska to pay the cost of bypass mail – as a Senate Committee considered wide-ranging postal reforms.  On the heels of the analysis being released, the bipartisan postal reform bill passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee without an amendment to charge Alaska for bypass mail.

The CRS analysis determined that “Alaska bypass mail appears to be a constitutional exercise of powers that the Constitution grants to Congress to establish post office and post roads and in the Necessary and Proper Clause.”

In addition, the analysis found that requiring the State of Alaska to pay the cost of bypass mail may violate the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by “commandeering” the state to appropriate state funds to pay this cost and by charging the state a tax or user fee for a disproportionate share of the cost of the system.

Legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives would require Alaska to pay the USPS for the costs of bypass mail in Alaska – a $70 million/year process by which pallets of Parcel Post mail are delivered to rural communities off the road system. Two members of the Senate Committee with jurisdiction over Postal Service reform legislation filed, but did not offer, amendments that contained this provision.