Postal Service closing plans panned by lawmakers

March 23, 2012

The U.S. Postal Service stands to lose billions of dollars in the first year after it closes 200 mail processing facilities and slows the delivery of first-class mail, according to a feasibility study released this week.


(Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)
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Postal regulators released the study Wednesday. But USPS spokesman David A. Partenheimer said that the findings are incomplete and “do not provide a fair portrait of the views of Postal Service customers regarding the service change at issue.” A revised study found that USPS would lose $1.3 billion in revenue in the first year after the changes and contribute $500 million less in labor and pension payments that year, Partenheimer said. The annual cost reductions associated with these same changes is projected to be $ 2.6 billion, resulting in a net annualized savings at $2.1 billion, the revised study found.


Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.). (Alex Brandon/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

In the House, a GOP-backed measure is slated for consideration next week by the Rules Committee before the measure comes up for a vote. And Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said this week that he may move as early as Monday to begin debate on a bipartisan reform measure cosponsored by Collins.

But several senators — mostly Democrats representing rural regions of the country — have taken steps to block or stall the legislation.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said Thursday that she plans to place a hold on the Senate measure because USPS hasn’t been forthcoming about plans to close a processing center in Eastern Maryland.

And seven Democrats wrote to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe Wednesday requesting detailed information on mail pricing, the use of excess space, hefty executive compensation packages and the growing size of USPS’s Washington headquarters staff at a time that rank and file workers are accepting early retirement packages.

“We all agree on the need to take action to preserve mail services for all Americans, including through the protection of timely mail delivery, small and rural post offices, and processing facilities — all of which are important to the communities we represent,” wrote the senators, led by Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.).

“The Postal Service is basically saying that they can’t run their own ship here in Washington,” Manchin said in an interview Thursday. “Look at some of the salaries here, look at some of the mismanagement decisions made here.”

Postal executive compensation is capped at $199,700 annually, but several officials also earn incentive bonuses and deferred compensation, putting their earnings well above Cabinet secretaries and the vice president.


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.). (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), who along with Collins is the primary cosponsor of the Senate’s main postal reform proposal, said Thursday that the situation facing USPS “is dire” but not hopeless.

“That is why we need to pass this bipartisan and comprehensive bill as soon as possible,” Carper said. “It is my hope that Congress and the administration can come together on this plan in order to save the Postal Service before it’s too late.”

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
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