Postal Service withdraws plan to end Saturday mail delivery

(David Goldman/AP)
(David Goldman/AP)

The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it would cancel plans to end Saturday mail delivery this summer, saying the new stopgap budget that Congress recently passed would prohibit the move.

The postal service’s board of governors made the decision Tuesday, according to a statement from the agency.

“The board believes that Congress has left it with no choice but to delay this implementation at this time,” the board said in the statement. “The board also wants to ensure that customers of the Postal Service are not unduly burdened by ongoing uncertainties and are able to adjust their business plans accordingly.”

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced in February that the Postal Service planned to halt Saturday mail delivery — but not Saturday parcel delivery — starting in August. He said the move would save the agency $2 billion a year. The Postal Service lost $15.9 billion last year.

A short-term budget that Congress and the president recently approved to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year includes language requiring six days of delivery.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has argued that the six-day delivery requirement does not specifically mandate mail distribution on those days. He contends that Saturday parcel delivery could satisfy the rule.

Issa criticized the postal board’s decision on Wednesday, saying the move was politically motivated.

“This reversal significantly undercuts the credibility of Postal officials who have told Congress that they were prepared defy political pressure and make difficult but necessary cuts,” the congressman said in a statement. “Despite some assertions, 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.”

The postal board has indicated that it still hopes to end Saturday mail delivery as Congress works toward a potential plan to overhaul the Postal Service. “Delaying responsible changes to the Postal Service business model only increases the potential that the Postal Service may become a burden to the American taxpayer, which is avoidable,” the group said in its statement.

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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