Postmaster general says Congress must act

Eric Risberg/AP

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe warned on Sunday that Postal Service finances are so dire that Congress should act in the next few weeks.

“We would love to be in a situation where we had meaningful legislation by the end of May,” he said on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers. "I know that is a big ask."

The issue remains mired in Congressional conflict. Though the Senate passed a Postal Service reform bill on Wednesday with a 62-37 vote, the legislation has drawn fire from House Republicans and Postal Service advocates alike.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called the bill “wholly unacceptable,” according to CNN Money, and has offered his own bill, which is starkly different from the Senate version. If the House passes his bill – and its prospects are still unclear – lawmakers would have to reconcile the two.

Meanwhile, Congress does have a deadline for action: May 15. That’s the day a moratorium on Post Office closures will expire, at which point the Postal Service could begin to shutter some of its smaller offices and reduce its service, which could ultimately result in layoffs and potential service disruptions. But Donahoe sought to alleviate worries that such an outcome would be immediate.

"Our date of the 15th is not a date that we're gonna make all kinds of changes. It's never been inteded to be a shutdown date for anything. The idea of the network changes is this: we will go very slow and methodically,” he said. The restructuring might happen over the next few months, he said, but would be paused to accommodate the high mail volume during holidays.

Donahoe said, however, that a solution must be found soon. The Postal Service, he said, is losing $25 million a day.

“We do not have years," he said. "You can see we're losing three and four, five billion dollars a year."

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