Saturday, May 31, 2014

House Republican leaders consider cutting Saturday mail to replenish nearly depleted highway fund

UPDATE, June 9: Lisa Rein of The Washington Post reports Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's endorsement of the plan and says Saturday mail is "the biggest sticking point for congressional Democrats and many Republicans who represent rural districts. More than three dozen House Republicans have signed a resolution calling on the Postal Service to maintain six-day delivery. But GOP leaders are hoping that their members’ interest in keeping highway projects in their districts flowing during the fall campaign will trump their concern about the cut to mail service."

UPDATE, June 3: David Cullen of Fleet Owner reports the plan "appears en route, but fast, to the dead-letter office. . . . A bipartisan majority of at least 220 members has already signaled approval of a House resolution that states USPS 'should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service'." Cullen cites a report from Adam Snider of Politico suggesting that we not forget “what happened two years ago when a move to cut transit [funds] from the HTF backfired and House members were left passing a shell bill with streamlining provisions just to get to a conference with the Senate.”

"House Republican leaders are preparing a proposal to replenish the Highway Trust Fund by limiting what mail the U.S. Postal Service would deliver on Saturdays, according to a memo sent to GOP lawmakers." So reports Kristina Peterson of The Wall Street Journal, linking two issues of much rural interest: a looming shortfall in the highway fund and the wish of the postal service and the Obama administration to save money by limiting first-class mail to five days a week.

"One proposal under consideration by GOP leaders would end delivery of first-class mail, catalogs, advertising circulars, and other lower-priority mail on Saturdays to save an estimated $10.7 billion over 10 years. The postal service would still deliver packages, including medications and both priority and express mail on Saturdays and post offices would remain open," Peterson writes. "GOP leaders are also considering transferring funds from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank trust fund," which is financed by a 0.1-cent-per-gallon tax on fuel.

Both measures might be needed. "Between $14 billion and $15 billion is needed to fund a one-year extension of the highway bill, according to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staff, based on estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office," Peterson writes. "The proposal is likely to encounter some resistance on both sides of the aisle." (Read more)

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