Bipartisan Newhouse bill lifts ban on USPS mailing alcohol

A bipartisan bill offered on Monday by U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) would end a more than 100-year-old ban that prevents the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from mailing alcoholic beverages to consumers.

“Currently, the U.S. Postal Service cannot ship beer, wine or distilled spirits because of an outdated, Prohibition-era ban,” Rep. Newhouse said. “This nonsensical regulation limits shipping options for producers and customers alike, affecting many of central Washington’s local craft breweries and wineries.”

Rep. Newhouse on May 17 led a bipartisan contingent of 16 other original cosponsors to introduce the USPS Shipping Equity Act, H.R. 3287, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA).

“The USPS Shipping Equity Act would give rural producers access to another option for shipping alcoholic beverages, thereby increasing market access and enabling central Washington businesses to continue to invest in our communities,” said the congressman.

In most states, private carriers such as FedEx and UPS deliver alcoholic beverages, added Rep. Speier, who said “it makes no sense to create a competitive disadvantage for the USPS by barring them from these kinds of shipments, especially given the Postal Service’s dire financial condition.”

If enacted, H.R. 3287 would permit USPS to ship alcoholic beverages directly from licensed producers and retailers to consumers over the age of 21 in accordance with state and local shipping regulations, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Newhouse’s office.

Additionally, H.R. 3287 would give USPS two years to develop regulations and implement the enacted law, ensuring appropriate identification checks would be in place, the summary says, and also would expand access to consumers for direct-to-consumer shipments.

The bill is supported by WineAmerica, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, the Distilled Spirits Council, the Brewers Association, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, and United Postmasters and Managers of America.