by Max Brantley
I'm hearing that the Postal Service is poised to announce the end of Saturday mail delivery. Perhaps as early as this morning.
The U.S. Senate in April voted for a plan that would have continued Saturday service for at least two years. Both Arkansas senators voted for the legislation. The House, however, never voted on the measure. The Republican majority had a bill that ended Saturday delivery.
Is this a popular idea politically? Polls have shown the public would support an end to Saturday mail service. But is the public at large representative of Arkansas sentiment? It will be interesting to hear what Tom Cotton, Tiny Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Rick Crawford have to say about the end of Saturday delivery and other postal services.
UPDATE: The reduction in service has been announced, effective this summer. Sen. Mark Pryor comments:
In April 2012, the Senate passed a bipartisan postal reform bill that prohibited the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday delivery for at least two years. After two years, implementation could only move forward if the USPS first attempts to raise revenue and cut costs through other means. Prior to eliminating Saturday delivery, the Postal Service must also identify communities who may be disproportionately affected by five-day delivery and develop steps to address any negative impact.
Last year, the Senate passed—and I supported—a bipartisan postal reform bill to put the U.S. Postal Service back on the road to financial stability. Unfortunately, the House refused to bring our bill to the floor, or offer a bill of their own. Due to the House’s inaction, the Postal Service is now facing crippling deficits.
While I agree the Postal Service needs to cut costs, their plan to end Saturday delivery cannot move forward without Congressional approval. They need to consider alternative measures, such as capping the salaries of their top executives or eliminating bonuses, before making changes that would hurt rural communities who depend on the Postal Service for commerce, news, and necessary goods. That being said, I hope the House will work with the Senate to pass a common-sense postal reform bill that will keep the USPS viable.
UPDATE II: Rep. Rick Crawford, whose Republican Party prevented passage of a bill to extend Saturday service for two years, is not happy about the decision his party forced.
Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR), released the following statement today after learning of the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to end Saturday delivery.
“Since my election to Congress I have fought to keep postal service for rural America. In 2011, I introduced the Protecting Our Rural Post Offices Act. The bill would prohibit the Postal Service from closing a rural post office if there is not another office within 8 miles with the goal of ensuring rural Americans have access to postal services.
“Everyone agrees the Postal Service must cut costs. However, ending Saturday delivery is not the best option and would hurt my rural constituents. The Postal Service needs to look for ways to streamline services and overhead costs instead of cutting services. Executives should not be receiving bonuses when the Postal Service is in financial trouble. Access to reliable postal service is the lifeline my rural constituents rely on for medical deliveries, their social security benefits and business needs. Democrats and Republicans need to come together to pass a reform bill that protects rural Americans’ access to mail services.