Friday, November 16, 2012

Lame-duck Congress could allow USPS to end Saturday mail delivery; first move likely in House

The lame-duck session of Congress may grant the U.S. Postal Service its wish to end Saturday mail delivery, the executive director and chief lobbyist for the National Newspaper Association said this afternoon.

Tonda Rush said in an email that retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut "is looking toward removing requirements in the law that would then enable USPS to wind down 6 day delivery. Earlier USPS had said it would take 6 months to do so, but with its current financial stress, it would be expected to move as quickly as possible." Rush said the postal service is now saying it would continue Saturday delivery of packages, a line of business on which it makes money.

The initial action would likely take place in the House, which has not acted on a postal reform bill that the Senate passed with NNA's support a few months ago. "Reps. Sam Graves and Jo Ann Emerson from Missouri and Rep. Gerald Connolly from Virginia will be offering an amendment to preserve 6-day mail when the bill comes to the floor," NNA and other lobbies say in a draft letter to House members, being circulated for signatures.

A provision allowing the service to deliver first-class mail only five days a week "will fall short of delivering the cost savings the USPS leadership has projected, and will, instead, further accelerate the decline in Postal Service volume and revenue, likely wiping out or exceeding the purported cost savings," the draft letter says. It notes the unanimous opinion of the Postal Regulatory Commission, which reduced the estimated savings to $1.7 billion from $3.3 billion "and noted a disproportionate impact on rural postal customers," Rush writes.

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