The U.S. Postal Service will be announcing its final fiscal 2013 financial results next Friday, according to a Federal Register notice today, and as usual, the only suspense will lie in the exact amount of red ink. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that last year’s loss will be nowhere near 2012’s monster figure of $15.9 billion.
That was a fluke, caused in large part because the Postal Service’s books reflected the cost of two skipped payments for future retiree health benefits. (Congress had pushed the deadline for the 2011 payment into 2012.) For 2013, the final number is likely to be in the range of $6 billion.
But as FedLine has noted before, even modest improvements in the Postal Service’s financial performance lessen the political heat on Congress to move on the long-term restructuring legislation that USPS leaders desperately want. Those odds, never good to start with, continue to fade.
The House of Representatives, for example, has yet to take up a postal overhaul bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa,, R-Calif., almost four months after the measure came out of committee. This week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee had initially planned to take up a competing measure sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., according to a draft agenda obtained by FedLine, but then dropped it from consideration, apparently because of a lack of consensus.
As the year winds to a close, lawmakers’ attention is likely to be consumed by budget negotiations aimed at heading off another partial government shutdown early next year. And with congressional mid-term elections coming next year, the prospects for legislative action–absent a full-blown, can’t-pay-the-bills crisis–will be even slimmer.