No law requires the Postal Service to deliver mail six days a week, but Congress has traditionally included a provision in legislation to fund the federal government each year that has prevented the Postal Service from reducing delivery service.
The House of Representatives on Thursday gave final approval to the legislation, known as a continuing resolution, that maintains the provision, sending it to President Barack Obama to sign into law. The Senate approved the measure on Wednesday.
“Once the delivery schedule language in the Continuing Resolution becomes law, we will discuss it with our Board of Governors to determine our next steps,” said David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service.Several polls have shown a majority of the public supports ending six-day delivery of first-class mail.
The Postal Service has said that while it would not pick up or deliver first-class mail, magazines and direct mail, it would continue to deliver packages and pharmaceutical drugs.
Ending six-day first-class mail delivery is part of the Postal Service’s larger plan to cut costs and raise revenues.
The mail carrier loses $25 million each day, as more Americans communicate by email and the Internet, and as heavy mandatory payments into its future retirees’ health fund take a toll.
The Postal Service could run out of money by October if Congress does not provide legislative relief, some experts have estimated.
The fight isn’t quite over yet. Some Republican congressional staff have argued the language on the provision is vague and as long as the packages and pharmaceuticals are delivered the Postal Service will be abiding by the language. But it is unclear how far the Postal Service is willing to go to cross the lawmakers who do back 6-day delivery.
For background on this issue, check out my column on why postal worker unions and their backers in Congress oppose ending six-day delivery. Check also my post on why unions fear the change could lead to the privatization of the service and mass retirements of postal workers and my pieces dissecting one of the unions’ oft-stated arguments regarding the service’s financial woes.