Skip to comments.Another fight looms over Saturday mail delivery
Posted on 07/06/2014 1:34:52 PM PDT by PoloSec
Congressional efforts to revamp the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service have run into a longtime roadblock Saturday mail delivery.
Top Republicans like House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and the Postal Services own executives say rolling back six-day letter delivery is crucial to the agencys fiscal health saving an average of $2 billion a year.
But GOP efforts to limiting Saturday delivery have hit a pair of snags in recent weeks, with Republican lawmakers representing rural districts balking along with Democrats - illustrating that such a plan doesnt appear to have the votes to make it through the House. Those problems have also raised even more doubts that a postal reform measure could pass this year, after years of fruitless negotiations.
Its a very good question, Issa told The Hill this month when asked if a bill limiting six-day delivery could pass the House.
GOP leaders have already scrapped a plan to use the savings from delivering letters only five days a week to shore up a Highway Trust Fund that needs an infusion of revenue within weeks.
The House Appropriations Committee also restored a provision to a spending bill that requires six-day delivery, after a bipartisan group of lawmakers objected to it being stripped by Republicans. Rep. Tom Latham (Iowa), one of those rural Republicans, joined with a Democrat, Rep. Jose Serrano (N.Y.), to push for the six-day standard.
In fact, those proposals underscored the trouble that Issa and his allies would have in limiting Saturday delivery on its own. In both cases, the opponents of six-day delivery tried to bring the fight to broader pieces of legislation, hoping that supporters of Saturday delivery could be forced into backing the change.
For Issa, getting a deal on Saturday delivery is key to getting a bigger deal on postal reform an issue that he sees as a potential legacy for a combative four-year tenure as Oversight chairman that is scheduled to end in January.
Issa believes that he and top lawmakers like Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and even the top Democrat on his panel, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), could strike a deal pretty quickly if they didnt have to negotiate over six-day delivery. USPS has said that it wants to only deliver packages, a growing part of its business, on Saturday.
They all understand that what they want to do is reform the post office by attrition and higher efficiency, Issa said about other lawmakers working on the Postal Service. Six-day really has been an unusual impediment.
The Postal Service has bled billions of dollars in red ink in recent years, as the agency dealt with the rise in digital communication and the fallout from the 2008 fiscal crisis.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and other top postal officials have repeatedly called on Congress to pass a postal reform measure, and have said that inaction on Capitol Hill has forced them to take other cost-cutting moves like the recent announcement that USPS would close more mail processing centers.
Issa and others believe that USPS needs to more aggressively cut costs, including doing more to shed excess workers.
But postal unions and their allies on Capitol Hill believe Congress should instead give the agency the authority to grow into other business areas, in addition to keeping full six-day delivery.
The unions would like to continue this featherbedding, Issa said.
The National Association of Letter Carriers, one of the postal unions, cast the six-day language in the Appropriations Committee as a clear victory for letter carriers and other supporters of a strong Postal Service.
But even after that win, labor officials say theyll have to keep a close eye on the lame-duck session after Novembers election. Lawmakers came close to a postal deal in the 2012 lame-duck session, and labor officials dont doubt that Issa will take another crack at five-day delivery this time around.
Some postal lobbyists have said that, given the stare-down over five-day delivery, congressional negotiators would be better served to seek a more modest agreement that didnt deal with delivery standards.
But as of yet, Issa has shown no interest in such a path. The Oversight chairman points out that President Obamas budget calls for five-day delivery, and recently pushed legislation that would force USPS to shift millions of houses to more centralized delivery points.
Still, Cummings said he didnt see any reason to think congressional opposition to limiting Saturday delivery would break any time soon, noting that its a way of life in many parts of the country.
Youve got unions worried about losing jobs, he added. I think it would be extremely difficult. Period.
I am more of the mind that mail should be a function of the private sector, but that has its problems as well I suppose.
Government, the only entity which can 100% of the market and still lose money.
This will hurt Red States almost exclusively. Not blue ones. Of course I wouldn’t expect dimwit Issa to think anything through.
Absolutely no reason for Saturday delivery. It’s no longer how we do business in most cases.
I like it.
Considering how wired we are now, I would be good with going to 3-day a week mail (Monday, Wed, Friday). As it is, I only pick-up mine once a week anyway.
With 3-day service, they could use the other two days a week to sort mail and probably be able to cut their budget in half. I just don’t see a strong need for daily delivery anymore.
There is no reason the post office should be losing money. I am aware that they are required to fully fund their pensions at the time of hiring (unlike federal government/agencies) which has put a cash crunch on their books. Still, from my vantage point they are moving in the right direction. There is no other entity that can pick up from and drop off to every address in America every day. Fed Ex and UPS skimmed a lot of the cream off their routes but they are doing a decent job trying to get it back. Still some kinks, and those postal vehicles are not ideal for package delivery but $2 billion is less than 3% their annual volume. They should be encouraged to act like any business and plan growth strategies, not strategies to cut back their business. Their annual revenue growth is much lower than their competitors. I think expansion would help. How much does UPS make on Saturday package delivery?
Back in the middle of the last century my home town not only had Monday through Saturday daily delivery, but businesses received deliveries twice a day during the work week.
I submit that Congress should stop trying to screw We The People. We require a Postal Service and We require Monday though Saturday delivery.
So Congress, quit messing around! Investigate options as businessmen. And yes, that means nonunion options!!
That’s a good transition step as they announce a 5 year going out of business plan
They can start by closing our downtown post office which has a newer larger one 8 blocks away.
I have yet to get any piece of mail on Saturday that would have made a difference on, say Monday. If something is needed that urgently plenty of other options can be used from electronic means to a commercial priority service.
For packages, contract with the UPS stores or turn existing post offices into package stations, and let people pick up their packages from there.
Also, let the USPS get into the money-transfer, check-cashing, and pay-day loan businesses.
Mail service is obsolete. It's time for the USPS to embrace the 21st century.
Get rid of it!
And you could combine that with Saturday delivery. Half the people could be Mon.-Wed.-Fri., the other half Tues.-Thurs-Sat.
But then they'd argue who was on what schedule.
In the 1960s, they delivered residential mail twice a day. The mailman walked the route with his big leather bag.
It’s a demonstration of how generally useless our elected officials are that they continue to come up with ways to “save” the post office money that will just make it less useful and therefore lose it money, when all they have to do is stop making the PO pay for the next 25 years of pensions every month. Congress are the guys that put the PO in this situation with one bad sentence, and they can get it out by erasing that sentence, but no that’s too easy, let’s get rid of Saturday delivery.
If I really needed something delivered in a hurry, the USPS could charge for a premium service. What we have now is an anachronism and a huge waste of money and resources. Cutting down the amount of deliveries would save the operation and prevent the inevitable emergency bailout.
I believe they farm out all their parcels. Let’s look into those bazillion dollar contracts.
The way the Government works, they will probably come up with a Bill that forces FEDEX and UPS to start Saturday Deliveries (with no additional cost) to even the Playing Field.
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