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House GOP Spending Bill Requires Post Office To Keep Saturday Delivery

The spending bill passed yesterday by the House of Representatives to fund the government through the end of the year includes a provision requiring the Post Office to keep Saturday mail delivery:

WASHINGTON – A spending measure passed by the House on Wednesday to keep the government operating through September requires that the Postal Service maintain a six-day mail delivery schedule, a potential setback for the agency, which announced last month that it planned go to five-day deliveries to cut costs.

The legislation passed the House 267 to 151, with 137 Democrats voting against it. The measure now moves to the Senate.

Faced with billions of dollars in losses, Postal Service officials said last month that beginning in August the service would stop delivering mail on Saturdays, though it would continue to deliver packages on a six-day schedule. The agency said cutting Saturday delivery would save about $2 billion a year.

The agency lost about $15.9 billion last year, partly the a result of a 2006 law requiring it to pay about $5.5 billion into a health benefits fund for its future retirees. A drop in mail volume has also hurt the agency’s finances.

The move to end Saturday mail delivery was widely condemned by some lawmakers, unions and postal customers.

After the House voted to pass the spending measure, Representative José E. Serrano, Democrat of New York, said the legislation made clear that Congress’s intent was for the Postal Service to continue to delivery mail on Saturdays.

The post office said last month that it had the authority to end mail delivery on Saturdays because the spending measure passed last year did not explicitly include the postal provision.

On Wednesday, Mr. Serrano said that issue had now been resolved.

“The continuing resolution is clear: there will be six-day delivery for the rest of the fiscal year,” Mr. Serrano said. “Earlier this year the Postal Service announced they thought they had legal authority to end Saturday delivery. That analysis was wrong, but now there is no room for misunderstanding.”

Theoretically, Congress could decide to return this discretion to the USPS in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, but that doesn’t seem likely. As I’ve said before, this continued effort by Congress to interfere into internal USPS affairs makes no sense.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    I visit the mailbox at the end of my driveway once a week…on Saturday. This really makes no difference to me…the junk mail will be delayed one more day.
    But what this really shows is that Republicans will f’up anything given half a chance. And then use their f’up to justify eliminating something. When will American wake up and stop this nonsense?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  2. Moosebreath says:

    “As I’ve said before, this continued effort by Congress to interfere into internal USPS affairs makes no sense”

    Sure it does. Republicans want rural voters, who largely support them, to get free stuff. It’s only when free stuff goes to Democratic constituents that they complain about things like unfunded madates and interference from Washington.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  3. rudderpedals says:

    The spending bill didn’t touch the debt ceiling so we’re going to be back in govt shutdown mode in a couple of weeks with or without Saturday delivery.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. matt bernius says:

    Its always good to remind everyone that since the Postal Act of 1970, the Post Office receives no Tax Payer Funds and is expected to always break-even, even when given unfunded Congressional mandates like this one.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mr. Serrano said. “Earlier this year the Postal Service announced they thought they had legal authority to end Saturday delivery. That analysis was wrong, but now there is no room for misunderstanding.”

    “Earlier this year the Postal Service announced they thought they had legal authority to end Saturday delivery. the flying of pigs. That analysis was wrong, but now there is no room for misunderstanding. Pigs will fly.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  6. Mike says:

    On top of what matt bernius posted, its also good to point at that not only does USPS receive no funding, but also they can’t set prices on their products without conferring with the Postal Rate Commission (part of the executive branch, subject to Senate approval). Sooo… worst of all worlds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. matt bernius says:

    Plus, last I checked, the Post Office budget issue wasn’t related to year over year earnings but a unique federal mandate that they need to pre-fund the entirety of their pension funds. No other government office has this same requirement.

    So again, expected to run more or less as a business with little to no control over many of the important issues about how they do business.

    Like @Mike said, worst of both worlds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  8. Gustopher says:

    Did the House bill require Saturday delivery, or six days a week? I’d love for the Postmaster General to respond “F.ck it, no Wednesday mail then!”

    Or deliver a single letter on Saturday, somewhere in the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. Brett says:

    I thought they already had to deliver Saturday Mail, it’s just that the Post Office decided to play chicken with Congress and stop doing it anyways. Frankly, they ought to continue doing that, unless Congress relents and allows them to stop distributing Saturday Mail- or better yet, acts to get rid of that idiotic pension requirement that the USPS has been saddled with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Scott says:

    @Moosebreath: Except the congressman quoted extensively is a Democrat from the South Bronx.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Nikki says:

    @Scott: Then he deserves all the derision he will receive for getting into the middle of a republican cockup.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. SKI says:

    @matt bernius:

    Plus, last I checked, the Post Office budget issue wasn’t related to year over year earnings but a unique federal mandate that they need to pre-fund the entirety of their pension funds. No other government office has this same requirement.

    Nor any private entity.

    And it is actually worse because it isn’t strictly “pension” but HEALTH INSURANCE for its retirees – and not even for its current employees but for any employee/retiree it will have for SEVENTY FIVE YEARS!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. KariQ says:

    Can we at least stop pretending that the problem is with the USPS when we discuss its future? The USPS does better than can be reasonably hoped, given the ridiculous rules they are forced to live by.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. inhumans99 says:

    Am I the only one who for a moment thought the title of this link was more House Saber Rattling, require post office to keep Saturday delivery, because the story above this one is the North Korea one. Could just be my tired eyes, as I come into the office at 07 am, so I am still waking up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Bob says:

    As a postal worker, I see this as elected officials sucking the cock of the bullshit Unions that represent the average postal worker. Average Joe postal worker, like myself, understands the savings that meaningless Saturday delivery represents. Nobody gets shit in the mail that can’t wait one extra day to receive. This set back is total horseshit, why oh why do we need to pander to the weak ass unions that are destroying AMERICA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4