House Panel Approves Bill For Five-Day Postal Delivery

A House of Representatives subcommittee approved legislation Wednesday to end Saturday mail delivery. The bill would drastically reduce the U.S. Postal Service’s workforce and its network of 32,000 post offices and processing plants.

The bill would also phase out delivery to front-door mail slots as part of an overhaul of the Postal Service.

What’s more, the bill, cosponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Dennis Ross (R-FL) would create a five-member board to assume control of the struggling Postal Service’s finances if the agency misses any payment to the federal government. The USPS has a $5.5 billion retiree healthcare payment due at the end of each September.

The proposed board could also override union contracts and order layoffs to help the fiscal health of the USPS.

President Obama earlier this week advocated the end of Saturday mail delivery.

Hamilton Davison, executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association, says Issa’s focus on excess postal costs is “exactly the correct focus. Facilities, plants, people and frequency all need to be a part of that.”

As regrettable as losing delivery days or postal jobs is, Davison says, there are no viable alternatives. “Raising rates will only drive more mail out of the system, as everyone saw with the massive volume loss of catalogs following the 2007 rate hikes, and will cause far more private sector job loss in an industry that employs eight million Americans.”

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said on Wednesday that “short-term solutions will not help the Postal Service or this industry.” He noted that: “We need long-term, comprehensive legislation and our expectation is that Congress will pass comprehensive legislation by the end of this calendar year.”

Donahoe has said the USPS must reduce its annual costs by $20 billion by 2015 to be profitable.