Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A step closer to Saturday mail elimination: fiscal 2015 funding bill doesn't include language stipulating that mail be delivered 6 days per week

The House took a significant step toward letting the U.S. Postal Service get rid of Saturday mail delivery. Rep. Ander Crenshaw's Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee did not include language in the fiscal 2015 funding bill stipulating that USPS must deliver mail six days per week. Every postal-related appropriations bill since 1983 has included such wording, Eric Katz reports for Government Executive.

Although House Republicans haven't been as enthusiastically pushing their idea to use the savings from transitioning the Postal Service to five-day delivery to pay for a one-year Highway Trust Fund extension, they are still backing the five-day delivery plan. That would get rid of the last thing keeping the agency from eliminating Saturday mail delivery.

In February last year, the Postal Service revealed its plan to stop Saturday deliveries with the exception of packages. "It was forced to backtrack when the Government Accountability Office ruled the appropriations rider prevented the agency from delivering fewer than six days per week," Katz writes.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe supports the five-day delivery idea because it would save the Postal Service $2 billion every year, but he has met significant opposition from Congress. "More than 220 lawmakers, including 40 Republicans, have signed on to a resolution sponsored by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., to ensure six-day mail delivery," Katz writes. Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif, said that the three-decade old language has changed into "a $2 billion per year unfunded mandated on the Postal Service—a mandate the agency can no longer afford."

Although President Barack Obama supports eliminating Saturday delivery, House Democrats haven't gotten behind the idea. During last week's subcommittee markup, Rep. Jose Serrano, R-N.Y., the ranking member of Crenshaw's subcommittee, said that "he will introduce an amendment to put the rider language back into the legislation when the full Appropriations Committee considers the bill," Katz reports.

The Senate Financial Services and the General Government Subcommittee will put together its own version of the appropriations bill. In February the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill to put off delivery cuts until 2017. (Read more)

No comments: