| WASHINGTON, March 21
WASHINGTON, March 21 The financially beleaguered
U.S. Postal Service has suffered a setback in its plan to end
Saturday delivery of first-class mail, as Congress advanced a
spending bill requiring six-day delivery.
The Postal Service, which lost $16 billion last year, had
announced last month its plan to switch to five-day mail service
to save $2 billion annually.
No law requires the Postal Service to deliver mail six days
a week, but Congress has traditionally included a provision in
legislation to fund the federal government each year that has
prevented the Postal Service from reducing delivery service.
The Senate on Wednesday approved a spending bill that
maintained that provision. The bill, known as a continuing
resolution, now goes to the House of Representatives for final
"Once the delivery schedule language in the Continuing
Resolution becomes law, we will discuss it with our Board of
Governors to determine our next steps," said David Partenheimer,
a spokesman for the Postal Service.
Several polls have shown a majority of the public supports
ending six-day delivery of first-class mail.
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.
The plan for a new delivery schedule, Partenheimer said,
would respond to the customers' changing needs and would help
keep the Postal Service from becoming a burden to taxpayers.
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 operations.
It had planned to drop first-class mail delivery in August.
Ending six-day first-class mail delivery is part of the
Postal Service's larger plan to cut costs and raise revenues.
The mail carrier loses $25 million each day, as more
Americans communicate by email and the Internet, and as heavy
mandatory payments into its future retirees' health fund take a
The Postal Service could run out of money by October if
Congress does not provide legislative relief, some experts have
A number of lawmakers and trade groups said the plan to cut
Saturday mail service is illegal because the Postal Service
requires Congress' approval before it makes such a decision.
But others such as Republican Representative Darrell Issa of
California and Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma have
supported the Postal Service's delivery schedule plan.
Last week, Coburn introduced an amendment to the spending
bill to strike down the requirement for six-day mail delivery
and give the mail carrier more control over its operations. But
that amendment failed.
Ali Ahmad, a spokesman for Issa, said there may still be
some room for the Postal Service to change its delivery
schedule. Ahmad said that although the spending measure
maintains the six-day delivery language, it is vague and does
not stop the Postal Service from altering what products it
delivers on Saturdays.