Congress Forces Post Office to Keep Saturday Delivery

Vie Reuters:  Congress to force Postal Service to keep Saturday delivery

Congress traditionally has included a provision in legislation to fund the federal government each year that has prevented the Postal Service from reducing delivery service. The Postal Service had asked Congress not to include the provision this time around.

Despite the request, the House of Representatives on Thursday gave final approval to legislation that maintains the provision, sending it to President Barack Obama to sign into law. The Senate approved the measure on Wednesday.

Given all the wailing in DC about fiscal responsibility and the need to make cuts for unnecessary or, at least, sub-optimal programs, allowing the USPS to cut Saturday first class delivery seems like a no-brainer.  Now, granted, Congress does not fund the USPS, but there is a) the symbolism of the whole thing and, more importantly, b) the fact that current projections have the USPS having to ask for a serious bit of help from Uncle Sam if it doesn’t get its fiscal house in order pronto:

The Postal Service, an independent agency not funded by taxpayers, has said it could need a taxpayer bailout of more than $47 billion by 2017 if Congress does not give it flexibility to change its business model and provide it relief from huge benefit payments.

Not to mention:

The Postal Service could run out of money by October if Congress does not provide legislative relief, some experts have estimated.

Now, the political dynamics here are not hard to understand: this is a vote that costs the Congress nothing in the short term, and makes any number of constituents happy.  Still, if the Congress is unwilling to pull the trigger on something like this (indeed, proactively went out of their way on this issue), it is hardly surprising that they are unwilling to take the political hits from more serious budget reform.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As expected. It is all part of the GOP’s plan to force the Postal Service into bankruptcy by 2020 so that some of their corporate cronies can swoop in and steal the assets for pennies on the dollar.

  2. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Then how do you explain all the Democrats who voted for this?

    As I said before, there is no reason that Congress should have veto power over what is nothing more than an ordinary business decision. It’s an other argument in favor compete postal privatization. Let the USPS work without having Congress control its every move

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Then how do you explain all the Democrats who voted for this?

    Cowardice. But then I live in a red state where the only way a Dem gets elected is by selling their soul to the NRA, so my pov may be skewed a little.

    As I said before, there is no reason that Congress should have veto power over what is nothing more than an ordinary business decision.

    On this, you and I agree.

  4. Stan25 says:

    Isn’t there a provision in the Constitution that mandates Congress control the post office and what it does? Seems to me like they are doing something that is Constitutional for a change.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    There you go, yet another example of just how serious Congress is on spending. On this issue, Republicans are their usual hypocritical selves, Democrats are complicit in GOP stupidity.

  6. @Stan25: Congress has oversight over the USPS, so I do not question their right to do this. I question the wisdom of the decision.

  7. matt bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Especially in lieu of the fact that Congress passed the postal act which requires the post office to run deficit neutral, and then have gone on to ask the post office to do a number of things that make it all but impossible for it to run deficit neutral.

  8. al-Ameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Congress has oversight over the USPS, so I do not question their right to do this. I question the wisdom of the decision.

    I agree completely. It is a small amount of money relative to the federal budget, yet it shows us just how incontinent our Congress is.

    (the Incontinental Congress? I apologize)

  9. @Stan25:

    The Constitution authorizes Congress to established “post offices” and “post roads.” It does not require that Congress do so.

  10. Ben Wolf says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Democrats are just as gung-ho about privatizing the USPS as the Republicans. Both parties are corporatist to the core.

  11. anjin-san says:

    compete postal privatization.

    Great idea. Sell it to someone like Donald Trump. Then Americans will be at his mercy when it comes to mail and many parcels. The peons should really be reminded they are peons, preferably on a daily basis.

  12. Tyrell says:

    USPS has talked about doing away with Saturday service for years and I have heard no objections. If I go to a doctor on a Saturday, I pay extra. If someone needs Saturday service, let them pay more. If some of these services are set up to run as a profit agency, they should have a lot of freedom and flexibility (USPS, AMTRAK). Congress is now not much more than an arrogant money machine that feeds on special interests and taxpayers money. “Clean the house”. Fire them all in 2014. One term limits for everyone!!

  13. Rob in CT says:

    This is the sort of thing you run into when you have something that is neither fully public nor fully private.

    I’d be fine with the USPS being a government agency. I’d also be fine with full privatization. I suspect either would be an improvement.