WASHINGTON (AP) - The new spending bill passed by Congress on Thursday
appears to continue the requirement for six-day mail delivery, but some
lawmakers and postal officials say plans to cut Saturday service should
The financially troubled Postal Service announced last month that it would
switch in August to five-day service for first-class mail and continue
six-day package delivery. The government at the time was running on a
temporary spending measure and postal officials invited lawmakers to spell
out the way ahead in the 2013 spending bill. That sweeping funding bill was
approved Thursday without new language.
Some lawmakers say a long-standing provision in the bill mandates six-day
delivery. Postal authorities argue they still will have delivery over six
days, just that not all mail will be delivered all days.
Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office weighed in with an opinion
that the postal agency did not have the right to unilaterally end Saturday
“We strongly disagree with the GAO’s legal opinion,” said David Partenheimer,
spokesman for the Postal Service.
The letter carriers union, which has strongly disagreed with the Saturday
cutback plan, sided with the GAO. “We fully expect the Postal Service’s
board of governors and the postmaster general to follow the law and the
expressed will of Congress about maintaining six-day delivery,” Fredric
Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said in a
statement. “We do not expect to have a legal fight.”
Some lawmakers believe the agency has the responsibility to make the cutback
because of it mounting red ink. Among them are Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
and Rep. Darrell Issa of California. The Republicans sent a letter to the
postal board of governors Thursday, telling the governors to stick with
their cutback plan.
The Postal Service said it expected to save $2 billion annually with the
Saturday cutback. The plan accentuates one of the agency’s strong points:
Package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say,
while the delivery of letters and other mail has plummeted. Email has
decreased the mailing of paper letters, but online purchases have increased
package shipping, forcing the Postal Service to adjust to customers’ new
The Postal Service lost $1.3 billion in the final three months of last year,
following a nearly $16 billion loss the previous fiscal year.