The Postal Service’s decision to put on hold its plan to restrict regular mail delivery to five days a week has drawn the ire of a congressional overseer.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the move undercuts the credibility of postal officials who told Congress they were prepared to make difficult cuts despite political pressure.
“It’s quite clear that special interest lobbying and intense political pressure played a much greater role in the Postal Service’s change of heart than any real or perceived barrier to implementing what had been announced,” Issa said in a statement.
But some congressional Democrats and members of both parties who represent rural districts praised the latest Postal Service move.
Postal officials announced in February they would end Saturday delivery of letters and magazines beginning the week of Aug. 5 in order to save about $2 billion annually. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said in February that language in the stopgap funding law that expired March 27 (PL 112-175) did not bind the Postal Service to six-day-a-week letter delivery. The Government Accountability Office, however, issued an opinion on March 21 that the provision still applies.
“I am gratified that the USPS has suspended its ill-advised plan to end Saturday delivery, which was in contravention to an explicit prohibition on such a move passed repeatedly by Congress in the appropriations process,” said Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y.
“This is good news for rural communities, businesses, seniors, veterans and others who depend on consistent and timely delivery of the mail,” said Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt.
Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., who introduced a resolution that would express the sense of the House that the Postal Service should maintain six-day delivery (H Res 30), anticipated other moves such as closing rural post offices. “I am pleased that, for now at least, the Postal Service will continue to abide by the law as written,” he said in a statement.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., who in February said any move to five-day delivery should be undertaken gradually, again called for broad postal overhaul legislation.
“Even though today’s decision by the Postal Service’s board of governors delays its controversial proposal, the urgent need for the administration and Congress to work together to save the Postal Service by making hard decisions and tackling controversial issues like Saturday delivery remains,” Carper said in a statement.