Senators seeking to end Saturday delivery among other services

Ramsey Kincannon

News Editor


In recent years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been facing budget shortages. In the last three months of 2011 alone, the USPS posted a $3.3 billion loss. Sensing an opportunity to aid what was once one of the most important positions in government, the U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday, April 17, to begin debating legislation changing the way the USPS works.

Susan Collins (R-ME) told reporters on Tuesday that “there are many different views on how to save the Postal Service, but there can be no doubt that the Postal Service is in crisis.” She also called the USPS “the lynchpin of a trillion-dollar mailing industry.” Other senators who have proposed to change the system include Scott Brown (R-MA), Thomas Carper (D-DE), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

The difference between the USPS and other government industries is instead of relying on tax dollars, the USPS has to generate the majority of its funds on stamp sales and other small products, which have been waning due to people paying bills online and sending email. The agency has laid out its own plans to save money and cut costs, but leaders inside of the USPS have asked for congressional assistance in order to augment their changes further.

Some changes that the USPS has already contemplated include ending overnight mail and closing several offices across the country. The latter idea has been viewed as especially problematic, considering that many of the proposed closed offices are in poor areas with little to no internet access, further limiting the towns’ and counties’ ability to communicate with other areas. Because of these concerns, the bill’s authors have included language that blocks those two cost-cutting measures and introduces other ones.

One of the ways that the USPS could change in the Senate plan is by eliminating Saturday delivery of mail. That proposal, if approved, could take place in two years. Other cost-cutting strategies include cutting mail processing centers in half so overnight mail can continue, as opposed to the USPS plan, which would eliminate the mail processing centers.

While the procedures to aid the USPS are being figured out, the Postal Service is about to receive a cash infusion of roughly $11 billion in order to extend its services, while the institution teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. Other suggestions that were not included in the bill were increasing the cost of a first-class stamp to a half-dollar, which has been estimated to bring in over a billion dollars.

The Senate plans to debate the legislature in the coming days, while the USPS continues to stay over $12 billion in the red. Whatever the result of the Senate session, analysts figure the bill to have a tough road in the House of Representatives, which would most likely demand further cost-cutting ideas to be included in the bill.