Postmaster General to lawmakers: Send money now

Postmaster General Jack Potter told a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday that Congress must finance its security and other costs left out of the administration's fiscal 2006 budget request or the agency's tenuous financial situation could get worse.

Transportation-Treasury-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Knollenberg, R-Mich., said in a tight budget year, "you might not get everything you ask for."

The panel approved a similar request last year when the same costs were omitted from the president's proposed budget.

In addition to $51 million for homeland security costs, the agency is seeking $29 million in reimbursements for allowing nonprofits free mailing and $109 million for fulfilling federally mandated obligations, including providing special materials for the blind and absentee ballots for overseas voters.

Potter also criticized a provision in the House Government Reform Committee-passed postal overhaul bill that would give the Transportation Department the authority to negotiate rates for carrying mail with foreign airlines. He said the Postal Service would be able to get a better deal.

While Knollenberg said he had not yet had a chance to look over the legislation, he acknowledged the agency "has some legitimate concerns."

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