- The US postmaster general had a dire message for lawmakers on Thursday.
- In a video to the House oversight committee, she warned of falling revenues to the point the agency could run out of cash by October.
- Mail volumes might not ever recover, she said, and is causing post office revenue to plunge.
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One of the most steadfast of government services could soon be in jeopardy because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The US Postal Service expects a $13 billion decline in revenue, roughly 18% of the agency's annual budget, that could leave it completely out of cash by the end of September, Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan warned lawmakers on Thursday.
In a video briefing to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Brennan said that mail volumes have dropped significantly as Americans are forced to stay at home. Over ten years, the lingering impact of the revenue decline could total more than $50 billion, according to a press release from the committee.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to share the postmaster general's full remarks, which were not public. However, sources familiar with the meeting told The New York Times that the agency could be delivering less than half its usual volume by June.
That's even despite an uptick in package deliveries as Americans turn to Amazon and other e-commerce sites to avoid going outside and risking further spread of the virus.
In order to keep the lights on — and continue paying its more than 650,000 employees — the post office and its Trump-appointed Board of Governors is asking Congress for a $50 billion bailout to make up for losses and fund modernization projects, as well as $25 billion in loans from the Treasury Department.
In a statement, the postmaster general said the agency was at a "critical juncture" and the mounting losses could eventually threaten its ability to operate.
"At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the reason we are so needed is having a devastating effect on our business," she said. "The sudden drop in mail volumes, our most profitable revenue stream, is steep and may never fully recover."
As part of the $2 trillion economic stimulus passed by Congress in March, the post office will receive about $13 billion, far short of the $25 billion lawmakers had asked for in negotiations.
"The Postal Service is holding on for dear life, and unless Congress and the White House provide meaningful relief in the next stimulus bill, the Postal Service could cease to exist," Carolyn Maloney, the Democrat from New York who chairs the committee, said in a press release.
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