Postal bill clears Senate committee

(Eric Risberg/AP) (Eric Risberg/AP)

Congress moved a step closer Thursday to rescuing the financially strapped U.S. Postal Service with passage by a Senate committee of legislation that would restructure some debts, drop Saturday service in the future and allow a just-enacted rate hike to be permanent.

The bill, approved 9-1 by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, follows last year’s passage of postal legislation by a House committee. Once each bill reaches the House and Senate floors, key provisions will likely change in a conference committee.

Thursday’s action, the product of a year of deliberation by the committee’s top Democrat and Republican, left two key stakeholders unhappy in the challenging effort to help stanch the Postal Service’s multi-billion-dollar losses.

Postal unions said an eventual move to five-day delivery, while postponed for now, would eliminate tens of thousands of jobs. Commercial mailers said a provision allowing higher postal rates, designed to bring the mail agency billions of dollars in new revenue, would drive away business, forcing mail volume to plummet.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.

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