The Wall Street Journal reports that Congress may include a provision in the next government spending bill forcing the Postal Service to scrap its plans to end Saturday delivery. The Postal Service said the change would save it $2 billion a year but postal workers unions are vehemently opposed and they’ve gotten some in Congress to back them. It is not clear that the provision will survive though. Even if it does survive, it may not actually prevent the end of Saturday delivery:
The six-day-a-week service mandate, wrapped into a government spending bill on remaining fiscal 2013 spending, is the same one Congress has had for the past 30 years. The House has already passed the provision. The Senate is expected to follow suit as early as Tuesday.
But this time the message is being delivered as the Postal Service looks to stem mounting losses that last year neared $16 billion, and a few Senate Republicans are pushing for a change to the spending bill that they say would give the Post Office the leeway it wants.
“Congress will be hamstringing the Postal Service, hastening its demise and probably adding additional financial burdens to U.S. taxpayers” if it requires six-day-a-week service, said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.). Mr. Corker, along with Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), has offered an amendment to drop the six-day service requirement.
While the amendment appears unlikely to gain approval as congressional leaders try to keep the spending bill on track for final passage before March 27, when the current government spending provisions expire, it opens the door for debate. There is disagreement in Congress on whether legislation stops the Postal Service from cutting Saturday services.
“Nothing in the language passed by the House prevents them from doing that,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.). Mr. Issa said he believes that as long as Postal Service delivers medicines, Internet orders and other packages on Saturday, it is meeting the mandate for six-day service.
Other lawmakers said Saturday delivery must continue. “The language is clear,” said Rep. Jose Serrano (D., N.Y.). “They can’t put these changes to Saturday mail into effect.”
Here’s my column from last month explaining the Postal Service’s enormous pension and retiree health benefit liabilities and how that led to the effort to end Saturday delivery. I have also delved into how ending delivery has public support according to polls, why the unions oppose this, and why one of their main talking points to argue against it is bogus. The latter is particularly messy, complex issue.
Here’s an Examiner op-ed from late last year by Nation Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando giving their side of the debate.