Postal Service Rescue: USPS Seeks Help From New Congress

The US Postal Service is hoping for a rescue operation from the newly sworn-in Congress after it was revealed the mail carrier could run out of money in a little more than nine months.

The USPS loses $25 million a day, and in the year ending November 15, 2012 posted whopping losses of $16 billion. In the same period, the organization ran into its legal borrowing limit and defaulted twice on required payments to the federal government.

With more Americans than ever communicating by email and escalating benefits for retirees taking their toll, a postal service rescue is urgently required.

A bi-partisan bill that would have ended Saturday mail delivery and eased the USPS’ benefit payment obligations passed the Democratic-led Senate last year, but has yet to be voted on by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Republicans are pushing for widespread post office closures. Privatization is also said to be favored by those on the right.

The exit of many key negotiators from Congress this week again delayed the debate over the struggling agency, further postponing any possible postal service rescue. Art Sackler, head of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a body which represents mailers, told Reuters:

“It’s important that they prioritize postal service legislation. We don’t want to have it get lost again in the big shuffle.”

With the 112th Congress expiring earlier this week, a firmly worded statement from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe called Congress’ inaction “disappointing”. Donahoe said he would be looking to the new Congress to push through reform to postal service legislation. He added:

“The Postal Service should not have to do business this way, which has undermined the confidence of our customer base and the $800 billion mailing industry we serve.”

Donahoe argues that the Postal Service has made sweeping changes to its organization in a bid to allow Congress to pass legislation that will save it. Over the last two years, 60,000 USPS jobs have been slashed and hours at some post offices have been cut. Despite such action, huge losses continue to hurt the mail carrier.

The United States Postal Service says its financial disintegration is related to reduced mail volumes and its future retiree health benefits program; about 70 percent of last year’s loss was blamed on the latter.