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109th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st Session 109-268
SUPPLY OUR SOLDIERS ACT OF 2005
November 3, 2005.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Tom Davis of Virginia, from the Committee on Government Reform,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 923]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Government Reform, to whom was referred
the bill (H.R. 923) to amend title 39, United States Code, to
provide for free mailing privileges for personal correspondence
and parcels sent by family members from within the United
States to members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty in
Iraq or Afghanistan, having considered the same, report
favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the bill
as amended do pass.
Committee Statement and Views.................................... 3
Explanation of Amendments........................................ 4
Committee Consideration.......................................... 4
Rollcall Votes................................................... 4
Application of Law to the Legislative Branch..................... 6
Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............ 6
Constitutional Authority Statement............................... 6
Federal Advisory Committee Act................................... 6
Unfunded Mandate Statement....................................... 6
Committee Estimate............................................... 6
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate... 7
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported............. 9
The amendments are as follows:
Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2005''.
SEC. 2. POSTAL BENEFITS PROGRAM FOR MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES.
(a) In General.--The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the
United States Postal Service, shall provide for a program under which
postal benefits shall be provided to qualified individuals in
accordance with succeeding provisions of this Act.
(b) Qualified Individual.--For purposes of this Act, the term
``qualified individual'' means an individual who is--
(1) a member of the Armed Forces of the United States on
active duty (as defined in section 101 of title 10, United
States Code); and
(2)(A) serving in Iraq or Afghanistan; or
(B) hospitalized at a facility under the jurisdiction of the
Armed Forces of the United States as a result of a disease or
injury incurred as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan.
(c) Postal Benefits Described.--
(1) In general.--The postal benefits provided under this Act
shall consist of such coupons or other similar evidence of
credit (whether in printed, electronic, or other format, and
hereinafter in this Act referred to as ``vouchers'') as the
Secretary of Defense (in consultation with the Postal Service)
shall determine, entitling the bearer or user to make qualified
mailings free of postage.
(2) Qualified mailing.--For purposes of this Act, the term
``qualified mailing'' means the mailing of any mail matter
(A) is described in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or
(D) of paragraph (3);
(B) is sent from within an area served by a United
States post office; and
(C) is addressed to a qualified individual.
(3) Mail matter described.--The mail matter described in this
(A) any letter mail not exceeding 13 ounces in weight
and having the character of personal correspondence;
(B) any sound- or video-recorded communications not
exceeding 15 pounds in weight and having the character
of personal correspondence;
(C) any ground parcel not exceeding 15 pounds in
(D) any bound printed matter not exceeding 15 pounds
(A) Number.--An individual shall be eligible for 1
voucher for each month in which such individual is a
(B) Use.--Any such voucher may not be used--
(i) for more than a single qualified mailing;
(ii) after the earlier of--
(I) the expiration date of such
voucher, as designated by the Secretary
of Defense; or
(II) the last day of the 1-year
period referred to in section 4.
(5) Coordination rule.--Postal benefits under this Act shall
be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any reduced rates of
postage or other similar benefits which might otherwise be
available by or under law, including any rates of postage
resulting from the application of section 3401(b) of title 39,
United States Code.
(d) Regulations.--Not later than 30 days after the date of the
enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense (in consultation with
the Postal Service) shall prescribe any regulations necessary to carry
out this Act, including--
(1) procedures by which vouchers will be provided or made
available (including measures to allow vouchers to reach, in a
timely manner, the persons selected by qualified individuals to
use the vouchers); and
(2) procedures to ensure that the number of vouchers provided
or made available with respect to any qualified individual
complies with subsection (c)(4)(A).
SEC. 3. FUNDING.
(a) In General.--There is authorized to be appropriated to the
Department of Defense a sum determined by the Department of Defense to
be equal to the expenses incurred by the Department in providing the
benefits described in section 2(c).
(b) Transfers to Postal Service.--
(1) Based on estimates.--The Department of Defense shall
transfer to the Postal Service, out of any amount so
appropriated and in advance of each calendar quarter during
which postal benefits under this Act may be used, an amount
equal to the amount of postal benefits that the Department of
Defense estimates will be used during such quarter, reduced or
increased (as the case may be) by any amounts by which the
Department finds that a determination under this Act for a
prior quarter was greater than or less than the amount finally
determined for such quarter.
(2) Based on final determination.--A final determination of
the amount necessary to correct any previous determination
under this section, and any transfer of amounts between the
Postal Service and the Department of Defense based on that
final determination, shall be made not later than 6 months
after the end of the 1-year period referred to in section 4.
(c) Consultation Required.--All estimates and determinations under
this section of the amount of postal benefits under this Act used in
any period shall be made by the Department of Defense in consultation
with the Postal Service.
SEC. 4. DURATION.
The postal benefits under this Act shall apply with respect to mail
matter sent during the 1-year period beginning on the date on which the
regulations under section 2(d) take effect.
Amend the title so as to read:
A bill to provide for free mailing privileges for personal
correspondence and certain other mail matter sent from within
the United States to members of the Armed Forces serving on
active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.
COMMITTEE STATEMENT AND VIEWS
H.R. 923, introduced on February 17, 2005 by Rep. Vito
Fossella, would establish a program providing for free postage
on certain mail matter being sent to members of the armed
forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those
hospitalized due to disease or injury received as a result of
service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Under an amendment in the
nature of a substitute that was adopted by the Committee, the
Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Postal Service,
is required to establish a one-year program under which
qualified members of the armed forces receive a monthly voucher
that can be redeemed to pay the postal expenses of sending one
letter or parcel to the service member. The service member can
then send these vouchers to anyone they choose, such as family
members or loved ones. H.R. 923, as amended, allows our
fighting men and women to receive more mail from their families
and loved ones back home--letters, videotapes, or care
packages--while lessening the financial burden on those family
members or loved ones.
In addition to H.R. 923, sponsored by Rep. Vito Fossella,
Rep. Harold Ford sponsored two bills, H.R. 887 and H.R. 2874
(both titled ``Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2005''), which also
provide for programs under which postal benefits are available
for letters and packages sent from the U.S. to members of the
Armed Forces serving on active duty in military operations
around the world. Although the Committee did not act on H.R.
887 or H.R. 2874, Mr. Fossella's and Mr. Ford's bills share
similar core concepts.
Section 1. Short title
This section provides that the bill may be cited as the
``Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2005.''
Section 2. Postal benefits program for members of the armed forces
Section 2(a) of the bill directs the Secretary of Defense,
in consultation with the United States Postal Service, to
establish a postal benefits program for certain members of the
armed forces of the United States. The Committee expects that
the Department of Defense and the United States Postal Service
will work together to provide the benefits established by the
bill in the most cost-effective manner possible, while ensuring
that the benefits are not subsidized by postal ratepayers.
Section 2(b) of the bill defines the individuals qualified
to receive the benefit as active duty members of the armed
forces of the United States who are either serving in Iraq or
Afghanistan, or who are hospitalized at a United States armed
forces facility as a result of disease or injury incurred as a
result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Section 2(c) of the bill establishes that the benefit under
the bill shall consist of a voucher redeemable at United States
post offices to send a letter up to 13 ounces, a media mail
piece up to 15 pounds, a bound printed matter mail piece up to
15 pounds, or a ground parcel up to 15 pounds to a qualified
individual, as defined in Section 2(b). Section 2(c) directs
the Department of Defense to provide to qualified individuals
one voucher for each month of eligibility. Section 2(c) directs
the Department of Defense, in coordination with the Postal
Service prescribe regulations within 30 days of enactment
establishing the procedures by which the vouchers will be
distributed to qualified individuals and, in turn, to the final
users of the vouchers. The bill provides considerable
flexibility to the Department of Defense and the Postal Service
to determine the form which these vouchers will take (which
could include electronic cards or paper coupons), and the means
by which they are distributed. Again, the Committee expects the
Department of Defense and the United States Postal Service to
work together to determine the best means by which the benefits
are to be distributed and redeemed.
Section 3. Funding
Section 3 of the bill authorizes to be appropriated to the
Department of Defense sufficient funds to cover its expenses
under the legislation. Section 3 also requires the Department
of Defense to estimate, on a quarterly basis, the postage that
will be used under the program, and transfer such amounts to
the Postal Service in advance. Section 3 provides for quarterly
and final reconciliations of the Department of Defense's
advance payments to the Postal Service.
Section 4. Duration
Section 4 provides that the benefits under the bill will be
made available for a one-year period only.
EXPLANATION OF AMENDMENTS
The provisions of the substitute are explained in this
On September 29, 2005, the Committee met in open session
and ordered reported favorably the bill, H.R. 923, as amended,
by voice vote, a quorum being present.
No rollcall votes were held.
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Washington, DC, October 13, 2005.
Hon. Tom Davis,
Chairman, Committee on Government Reform,
Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: On September 29, 2005, the Committee on
Government Reform ordered H.R. 923, the ``Supply Our Soldiers
Act of 2005'' to be reported. As you know, H.R. 923, as
amended, falls largely within the jurisdiction of the Committee
on Armed Services.
Our Committee recognizes the importance of H.R. 923 and the
need for the legislation to move expeditiously. Therefore,
while we have a valid claim to jurisdiction over these
provisions the Committee on Armed Services will waive further
consideration of H.R. 923. In the event of a conference with
the Senate on this bill, the Committee on Armed Services
reserves the right to seek the appointment of conferees.
I would appreciate inclusion this letter and a copy of the
response in your Committee's report on H.R. 923 and the
Congressional Record during consideration of the measure on the
With best wishes.
House of Representatives,
Committee on Government Reform,
Washington, DC, October 20, 2005.
Hon. Duncan Hunter,
Chairman, Committee on Armed Services,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for your recent letter
regarding the Committee on Armed Services' jurisdictional
interest in H.R. 923, The Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2005, and
your willingness to forego consideration of H.R. 923 by the
I agree that the Committee on Armed Services has a valid
claim to jurisdiction over H.R. 923. In the event of a
conference with the Senate on this bill, I will support your
request for the appointment of outside conferees from the
Committee on Armed Services.
As you have requested, I will include a copy of your letter
and this response in the Government Reform Committee's report
on H.R. 923 and in the Congressional Record during
consideration of the legislation on the House floor. Thank you
for your assistance as we work towards the enactment of H.R.
APPLICATION OF LAW TO THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a
description of the application of this bill to the legislative
branch where the bill relates to the terms and conditions of
employment or access to public services and accommodations.
This bill would establisha program providing for free postage
on certain mail matter being sent to members of the armed forces
serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Legislative branch employees and their families, to the
extent that they are otherwise eligible for the benefits
provided by this legislation, have equal access to its
STATEMENT OF OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of
STATEMENT OF GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions
of this report.
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT
Under clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House
of Representatives, the Committee must include a statement
citing the specific powers granted to Congress to enact the law
proposed by H.R. 923. Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the
Constitution of the United States grants the Congress the power
to enact this law.
FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ACT
The Committee finds that the legislation does not establish
or authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within
the definition of 5 U.S.C. App., Section 5(b).
UNFUNDED MANDATE STATEMENT
Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded
Mandate Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement whether
the provisions of the report include unfunded mandates. In
compliance with this requirement the Committee has received a
letter from the Congressional Budget Office included herein.
Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the
Committee of the costs that would be incurred in carrying out
H.R. 923. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) of that rule provides that
this requirement does not apply when the Committee has included
in its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the bill
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office
under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act.
BUDGET AUTHORITY AND CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules
of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has received
the following cost estimate for H.R. 923 from the Director of
Congressional Budget Office:
October 14, 2005.
Hon. Tom Davis,
Chairman, Committee on Government Reform,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 923, the Supply
Our Soldiers Act of 2005.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Mark
Grabowicz, for costs relating to the U.S. Postal Service, and
Matthew Schmit, for costs to the Department of Defense.
H.R. 923--Supply Our Soldiers Act of 2005
Summary: H.R. 923 would authorize the appropriation of such
sums as necessary for the Department of Defense (DoD) to cover
the costs of providing free postage for one year for monthly
mailings sent to certain members of the U.S. Armed Forces. CBO
estimates that implementing H.R. 923 would cost $30 million
over the 2006-2007 period, assuming appropriation of the
necessary amounts. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues
or direct spending.
H.R. 923 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)
and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated
budgetary impact of H.R. 923 is shown in the following table.
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 050
By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
Estimated Authorization Level................................. 21 9 0 0 0
Estimated Outlays............................................. 19 11 0 0 0
Basis of Estimate
H.R. 923 would authorize the appropriation of such sums as
necessary for DoD to cover the costs of providing free postage
for one year for monthly mailings sent to certain members of
the U.S. Armed Forces. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 923
would cost $30 million over fiscal years 2006 and 2007,
including $17 million for postage and $13 million for DoD's
transportation and administrative costs, assuming appropriation
of the necessary amounts. For this estimate, we assume that the
bill will be enacted in December 2005 and that free mailings
will begin early in calendar year 2006 and end after one year.
For members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty in Iraq
or Afghanistan, or hospitalized as a result of such service,
H.R. 923 would provide certain mailing privileges for one year.
Each of those servicemembers could receive one free mailing
each month from family or friends in the United States, subject
to certain conditions. The monthly mailing would be restricted
to: a letter not exceeding 13 ounces in weight and having the
character of personal correspondence, or a sound- or video-
recorded communication, ground parcel, or bound printed matter
not exceeding 15 pounds in weight.
CBO estimates that about 145,000 troops in Iraq,
Afghanistan, and military hospitals would be eligible for the
bill's mailing privileges. We assume that nearly all of these
individuals (at least 90 percent) would participate each month.
We expect that the majority of monthly mailings would be ground
parcels of (or near) 15 pounds because it is likely that family
and friends would take full advantage of the free postage.
Based on rates that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is
expected to charge in 2006 for ground parcels and other mail
sent to U.S. servicemembers overseas, we estimate that each
monthly mailing would cost, on average, about $11. Thus, CBO
estimates that postage for the mailing privilege offered by the
bill would cost about $17 million.
DoD transportation and administration costs
The rates charged by USPS include only the cost of handling
and transporting the parcels to centralized DoD collection
points within the continental United States. Transportation of
the parcels overseas and final distribution is the
responsibility of DoD. Because this bill would likely increase
the amount of mail sent to servicemembers in Iraq and
Afghanistan, DoD would incur additional costs for
transportation, handling, and administration.
Based on information from the Government Accountability
Office and DoD, CBO estimates that the cost to transport and
distribute mail to Iraq and Afghanistan averages about $5,000
per ton. In 2003, DoD shipped about 30,000 tons of mail to Iraq
and Afghanistan. Since we expect that most friends and family
members would use the full 15-pound allotment as permitted by
the bill, CBO estimates that the amount of mail sent free of
postage under H.R. 923 would total in excess of 10,000 tons.
CBO expects, however, that much of this mail would be sent
regardless of cost (i.e., much of it would likely be sent under
current law). Absent information from the Department of Defense
regarding the increase in the total amount of mail that would
require transportation overseas under this legislation, CBO
assumes an overall increase of about 25 percent, or about 2,500
tons. Therefore, CBO estimates that implementing this bill
would increase DoD's transportation, handling, and
administrative costs by $13 million over the 2006-2007 period.
Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: H.R. 923
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as
defined in UMRA and would not affect the budgets of state,
local, or tribal governments.
Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: DoD: Matthew Schmit;
USPS: Mark Grabowicz; impact on state, local, and tribal
governments: Sarah Puro; impact on the private sector: Paige
Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL AS REPORTED
H.R. 923 makes no changes to existing law.