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Losing $25M a day? Congress shrugs off USPS losses

The United States Postal Service is losing $25M a day, but Congress voted against cutting Saturday deliveries. The USPS might still choose to deliver nothing but packages on Saturdays, some analysts say.

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U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Michael McDonald prepares for his delivery run in East Atlanta, Feb. 7. The U.S. Postal Service says it is losing $25M a day, but it can't eliminate Saturday mail delivery as planned because Congress won't allow the change. The Postal Service said in February that it would cut back to five-day-a-week deliveries for everything except packages, as a way to hold down losses.

David Goldman / AP

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Congress foiled the financially beleaguered U.S. Postal Service's plan to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail when it passed legislation on Thursday requiring six-day delivery.

The Postal Service, which says it loses $25 million per day, said last month it wanted to switch to five-day mail service to save $2 billion annually.

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.

But some lawmakers who support the Postal Service's plan have said there may still be some room for it to change its delivery schedule. They point out that the language requiring six-day delivery is vague and does not prohibit altering what products it delivers on Saturdays.

The Postal Service has said that while it would not pick up or deliver first-class mail, magazines and direct mail, it would continue to deliver packages and pharmaceutical drugs on Saturdays.

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