Even though the U.S. Postal Service isn’t mentioned once in the stop-gap spending bill approved by the House this afternoon, the measure deals a blow to the agency’s hope of ending Saturday mail delivery this August.
For about 30 years, Congress has used annual appropriations bills to continue a ban on any reduction in mail delivery frequency. But continuing resolutions like the one that cleared the House today are basically just extensions of whatever Congress did the previous year. And because this particular CR is ‘silent” on the mail delivery issue, that means the prohibition would remain in force through the end of the fiscal year in September, according to a House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman.
The bill still needs Senate approval, as well as President Obama’s signature. But with all sides now preoccupied with the across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester, the odds are pretty good that lawmakers aren’t going to act to allow the Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery this year unless there’s a much bigger deal on an overhaul to get the money-losing mail carrier back in the black.
In an email, USPS spokesman Dave Partenheimer declined comment on today’s House vote, but stressed the view that the plan to end Saturday mail delivery (while continuing Saturday package delivery) “is a responsible and reasonable approach to address our urgent financial situation and America’s changing mailing habits.
“We continue to lose $25 million per day,” Partenheimer said. “The new delivery schedule would save approximately $2 billion annually once fully implemented and would be a significant step towards improving our financial stability.”