As USPS Cuts Saturdays, Congress Reacts Swift and Strong

White House Also Weighed In

Yahoo Contributor Network

Several members of Congress in both chambers and in both parties reacted vociferously when the U.S. Postal Service announced it would stop Saturday delivery of regular mail Aug. 1. CBS News reveals Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced Wednesday at a press conference that packages, medicine, priority mail and express mail won't be affected. Postal stations currently open for business on Saturdays would remain so, according to the Postal Regulatory Commission . Unlike letter-sized mail, package deliveries have increased over the past three years.

Reaction to the postal cuts was swift and loud as members of Congress quickly took up the issue.

* White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked a question about the closures at a briefing. The executive branch had no comment on the Saturday closures as the White House found out about the plan a day before it was public and is still reviewing the decision. However, Carney believes the issue could have been solved with House approval since the Senate passed legislation in 2012.

* Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sent a joint letter to congressional leaders in support of the Postal Service's decision. The letter called the "common sense reform" made by the USPS a necessary act stemming from 1984 legislation requiring the six-day delivery system. Both men feel move to five-day delivery is a "solution is worthy of bipartisan support."

* Sen. Bernie Sanders , I-Vt., wants to save the six-day delivery option with "real postal reform." He feels cutting delivery "will lead to a death spiral that will harm rural America while doing very little to improve the financial condition of the Postal Service." Sanders blames an act in 2006 that required the USPS to pre-fund 75 years of future retiree benefits in just 10 years.

* Rep. Rose DeLauro, D-Conn., blamed House Republicans for the failure of the Postal Service. Further, she said, "We must stop lurching from crisis to crisis. It is time for Congress to act... ."

* Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said, "Cutting service should ... be the last resort, not ... the first choice." She cites a March 2011 study that believes a loss in Saturday service will reduce customers and lead to even more financial losses for the American institution.

* Sen. Tom Carper , D-Del., praised Donahoe for "moving aggressively to do what he believes he can and must do to keep the lights on at the Postal Service, which may be only months away from insolvency." Carper was disappointed in the overall decision even as he realized it was necessary.

* Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., had choice words for the semi-autonomous governmental agency. Owens said, "I strongly disagree with the Postal Service's outrageous decision to end Saturday delivery. ... This is an irresponsible approach to management and one that I oppose." The House member blamed management in the USPS for its financial troubles.

* Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., called the move potentially dangerous to senior citizens in his district who rely on delivery of medicines and paychecks. He denounced the move and called upon Congress to act to save the American institution.

* Rep. Gerry Connolly , D-Va., sent a letter to Donahoe explicitly asking for legal documents that give the Postal Service authority to change itself without congressional approval. Connolly argues that since Congress hasn't said the USPS can cut Saturdays, the organization has no legal authority to do so.

William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.

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