Six-Day Mail Delivery Safe Through FY2011?

A pair of congressional panels approved spending bills for fiscal year 2011, including a measure to maintain six-day mail delivery.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 18-12 to approve a spending bill for Fiscal Year 2011 that included a measure to continue six-day delivery. Similarly, the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee approved language on a voice vote.

The full Senate and House must approve the bills to maintain six-day mail delivery through FY2011.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), a member of the Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee, said eliminating Saturday mail delivery would heavily impact people living in rural areas.

“Unlike in urban areas where folks can walk down the block to the local drug store,” Tester said in a statement, “many Montanans live long distances from the nearest pharmacy or newsstand. Getting mail six-days per week is part of what keeps rural America strong and thriving.”

The USPS has proposed five-day mail delivery as one of several steps to reduce its expected $7 billion loss this year. Federal law has mandated a six-day mail delivery schedule since 1983.

According to the five-day delivery proposal, letter carriers would stop delivering mail to U.S. homes and businesses and picking up mail from blue collection boxes on Saturdays. But post offices would stay open on Saturdays, and mail would be delivered to post office boxes. Express mail services would continue seven days a week.

The delivery cuts would save the USPS $3.1 billion in the first year, and as much as $5.2 billion by 2020. The USPS has seen its mail volume fall 20% since 2006, and it’s expected to drop by another 20 billion pieces in the next 10 years. First-class mail is expected to fall by 30 billion pieces, while modest growth is anticipated for advertising mail.

The USPS has proposed an exigent rate case, which carries an average of 5.6% increase. Many groups, including The Affordable Mail Alliance, have asked the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to dismiss the case claiming it is not legally permissible according to postal reform legislation.

The PRC has until Oct. 4 to render its decision in the proposed exigent rate case.

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