Kevin R. Kosar
Analyst in American National Government
Members of the Armed Forces on duty in designated combat areas can send personal correspondence, free of postage, to addresses in the United States.
However, there never has been a comparable policy to permit individuals in the United States to send letters and packages to troops serving overseas. That said, the federal government does subsidize the postage an individual pays to send mail to troops. A sender is charged only for the cost of the domestic portion of the delivery—the Department of Defense pays the cost to move the mail from the United States to troops overseas. Additionally, since October 2008 the U.S. Postal Service has offered a discounted package service to families wishing to send packages to members of the Armed Services stationed overseas.
Legislation—H.R. 704 (and the identical H.R. 2126) and H.R. 707—has been introduced in the 111th Congress to establish a free-mail-to-troops postage benefit. Each of these bills would provide members of the Armed Forces serving overseas with free-postage vouchers every month. Recipients of these vouchers would be able to transfer them to family members or other persons in the United States, who then could use the vouchers to mail a letter or package to the troops postage-free. Both of these bills have been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services' Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
When the House passed H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, on June 25, 2009, it included the text of H.R. 707 as Section 666. However, when the Senate approved an amended version of H.R. 2647 on July 23, it did not include the free postage benefit. Additionally, neither the House nor the Senate Appropriations Committee included a free postage benefit when it approved H.R. 3326, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010.
The potential cost of either H.R. 704 (and the identical H.R. 2126) or H.R. 707 to the federal government is unknown. The Congressional Budget Office has not published a score of either bill, and neither piece of legislation details the means through which the postage benefit is to be administered. Nor do the bills place any restrictions on the dimensions of a package that may be shipped with a voucher, although the shape of a package significantly affects the U.S. Postal Service's costs to deliver it.
Date of Report: March 12, 2010
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: R40550
Document available electronically as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail email@example.com or call us at 301-253-0881.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Kevin R. Kosar