Battle Over Postal-Service Cuts Looms in September

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., urged comprehensive reform "before it's too late." Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., urged comprehensive reform "before it's too late." Flickr user Third Way Think Tank

The stage is being set this month for another round of argument and angst over the future of the U.S. Postal Service when Congress returns to work in September.

The latest squabble erupted after the USPS, which this summer reported a net loss of $2 billion in the second quarter of 2014, announced plans to cut 15,000 jobs and consolidate 82 mail-processing centers in 2015. The Postal Service has already consolidated 141 mail-processing facilities since 2012.

Last week exactly half the Senate wrote to appropriators urging them to block any more Postal Service cutbacks in legislation to fund the government after Oct. 1, which Congress must enact in September to avoid a shutdown.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee responded with a statement saying Congress should instead enact comprehensive postal reforms "before it's too late."

"If my colleagues want to address these concerns for the long-haul, I urge them to join me this September as we continue our efforts to fix the serious, but solvable, financial challenges facing the Postal Service," said Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del.

Carper and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., have been promoting legislation to streamline and modernize the Postal Service and deal with its health care, pension, and other costly issues. But those efforts, including a reform bill that Carper cosponsored with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., have stalled.

Meanwhile, the USPS continues to drown in red ink, despite an increase in revenue in the quarter ending June 30. A big part of the losses stem from a congressional requirement to prepay billions of dollars into a future retiree health care fund.

Last week's letter signed by 50 senators—led by Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; and Jon Tester, D-Mont.—called for a one-year moratorium on further cuts to "give Congress the time it needs to enact the comprehensive postal reforms that are necessary for the Postal Service to function effectively in the future." The senators said the planned cuts in 2015 will affect services in 37 states and harm local communities and economies.

"While a number of reform proposals have been introduced in both the Senate and the House to tackle these problems over the past several years, we have yet to enact legislation," the letter said. "In the absence of congressional compromise, the Postal Service has proposed more sweeping changes to its operations."

The 50 senators requested that language be added to must-pass legislation to fund the government into the next fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The language should block for one year any Postal Service plans to consolidate more mail-processing facilities, the letter said, and should impose a moratorium through fiscal 2015 on any more reductions that would result in slower first-class mail service.

On Tuesday, Carper's frustration spilled out in a written statement.

"If Congress continues to do nothing, we face a future without the valuable services the Postal Service provides. This would be a devastating blow to our economy," Carper warned. But he noted his and Coburn's bill would preserve existing standards, including the 82 mail-processing plants and Saturday mail delivery, "until other reforms have a chance to bear fruit."

"Our bill isn't perfect but it is an important step in the right direction. I hope my colleagues will join our efforts to enhance this plan in order to save the Postal Service before it's too late," Carper said.

(Image via Flickr user Third Way Think Tank)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.