Postal Updates

Senate approves mail measure to curb drugs

May 3, 2021, 2 AM
United States Postal Service package mail automation and operations. Screen capture from U.S. Postal Service video.

Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister

The Senate has finally agreed to a measure that is aimed at slowing the flow of illicit drugs into the United States by mail.

The 99-to-1 vote came Sept. 17 after the measure was bundled with others aimed at attacking the nation’s opioid crisis.

The House had approved the same mail provision in June, and the Senate was supposed to quickly follow. But it took tweets from President Trump and additional pressure from Senate sponsors to get the measure approved.

Before the legislation goes to the president, the Senate and the House must reconcile their two versions.

A key provision of the bill requires the U.S. Postal Service to receive “advanced electronic data” on all packages coming into the United States from foreign countries beginning in 2021.

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The provision, according to some accounts, will add a $1 fee for additional customs processing.

Private express companies are already subject to this layer of advance electron surveillance.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told The New York Times before the vote, “We are being overrun with [the opioid] fentanyl.”

The senator, who headed a committee that investigated drugs from overseas, said: “It is coming primarily from China and coming primarily through our U.S. Postal Service if you can believe it.”

The Postal Service had pledged to work with lawmakers to fashion legislation that would address the problem.