WASHINGTON, April 18 The U.S. lobbying forces
that defeated a Postal Service plan to end Saturday delivery to
reduce its annual deficit are now using their Capitol Hill clout
to pass a law to make six-day delivery mandatory.
The Postal Service, which is losing millions of dollars
everyday as more Americans communicate by email and the
Internet, has said it could require a $47 billion taxpayer
bailout by 2017 if Congress doesn't permit cuts.
At a hearing on Wednesday before the House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform, the president of the National
Association of Letter Carriers urged lawmakers to write six-day
delivery into law.
"Members of the committee should not blindly follow
uninformed public opinion when it comes to Saturday delivery,"
said Frederic Rolando.
A bill mandating six-day delivery begun in the Oversight
Committee in January has gained momentum and now boasts 175
cosponsors. It is yet another sign of the growing influence of
interest groups and postal employee unions who constitute a
powerful lobbying force on Capitol Hill.
The group, which includes lobbyists for greeting card
companies, the newspaper industry and letter carriers unions,
spent more than $1 million last year to thwart the Postal
A legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office in
March that said cutting Saturday service would be illegal
further dent the plan.
Supporters on both sides of the issue realize the debate is
far from over.
Tonya Rush, president and chief executive of the Newspaper
Association, said some interest groups realize the Postal
Service is trying to find solutions to financial losses that
totaled $16 billion last year.
"Even though we're in agreement with the Postal Service in
many of the things that they're trying to do. This is one in
which we disagree," he said.
Backers of the Postal Service plan blamed lobbyists for
defeating the five-day-a-week proposal.
SERIOUS POLITICAL PRESSURE
"Despite some assertions, it's quite clear that special
interest lobbying and intense political pressure played a much
greater role in the Postal Service's change of heart than any
real or perceived barrier to implementing what had been
announced," Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California
said in a statement.
Rush said her association's fight kicked into higher gear
last month when more than 100 members visited lawmakers to
support six-day delivery. "This is how laws are made," said
Rafe Morrissey, the Greeting Card Association's vice
president for postal affairs and a Hallmark lobbyist, said the
coalition mobilized urgently after the Postal Service announced
Lobbyists emphasized that the Postal Service could not prove
that it could achieve $2 billion in savings.
The mailing coalition's power in the fight underscores how
difficult it will be for the Postal Service to win congressional
approval for other cost-cutting moves, such as layoffs, rural
post office closures or stepping up competition with
A budget proposal from President Barack Obama offers
significant concessions to the Postal Service, including a
provision to eliminate Saturday delivery.
Lobbying records show that last year, the National
Association of Letter Carriers, National Rural Letter Carriers'
Association, Greeting Card Association and Envelope
Manufacturers Association spent nearly $1 million combined
pushing for six-day delivery.
The three major postal unions also poured a total of more
than $7 million last year into the re-election campaigns of key
congressional supporters, according to data on OpenSecrets.org.
(Reporting By Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson
and Philip Barbara)