Lawmaker proposes alternative mail delivery schedule

New legislation would eliminate 12 mail delivery days for the U.S. Postal Service, but the agency says the measure would not save enough money.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, recently introduced a bill (H.R. 5919) that would allow the postmaster general to choose 12 "postal holidays" each fiscal year to suspend mail delivery. The days could fall any time except Sundays and public holidays. The measure would reduce work hours and operating costs, said Chaffetz, who opposes the USPS proposal to eliminate Saturday delivery.

"USPS is experiencing severe financial pressures due to competition from the Internet, reduced demand due to the recession and large unfunded liabilities for retiree health care," he said. "While my bill will help to reform its dire financial situation, there is no silver bullet that will solve the Postal Service's financial problems."

Gerald McKiernan, a spokesman for USPS, said the agency was grateful for Chaffetz's interest, but could not support the proposal because it doesn't offer sufficient savings.

The Postal Regulatory Commission has received 7,450 comments opposing any change in the Postal Service's delivery schedule and 3,087 comments in favor of service changes.

Additional legislation affecting the Postal Service is making its way through several congressional committees. The Senate Appropriations Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government last week approved spending bills that include provisions requiring USPS to maintain a six-day delivery schedule, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce recently advanced legislation that would require the Office of Personnel Management to review the agency's claim that it overpaid the Civil Service Retirement System and deposit any surplus into the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund.

According to Ann Fisher, PRC's director of public affairs and government relations, commission representatives on Thursday will attend a meeting with Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs federal financial management subcommittee, to discuss Postal Service issues, adding that representatives from OPM, USPS and the Office of Management and Budget also will participate. In addition, Fisher said PRC is in early discussions with Obama administration officials to secure relief from the Postal Service's payment obligation to its Retiree Health Benefit Fund.

The Postal Service Board of Governors will meet on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss pricing, finances and performance.

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